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Lobby Day MVPs in the Spotlight

There were SO many amazing stories surrounding this year’s Hill Day that it was hard to narrow down our annual lobby day award winners. Not a bad problem to have! Please join us in congratulating these You’re the Cure MVPs, and then learn more about their stories in this video.

 

  • Science Advocate of the year – Dr. David Yu-Yiao Huang: Dr. Huang has been involved with AHA advocacy since 2003. From submitting expert written testimony and attending in-district meetings, to speaking before lawmakers, his passion for policy and his belief in the positive change policy can achieve has contributed significantly to big wins in North Carolina.
  • Volunteer Advocate of the Year – Theresa Conejo: Theresa has been one of the key proponents of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive smoke-free law. Last year, she signed a smoke-free op-ed which was picked up by major news outlets across the state. She also aggressively advocated for the proposed Clean Indoor Law. In addition, she recruits new You’re the Cure advocates at every opportunity. In fact, just recently, she signed up an additional 35 volunteers to join her in Pennsylvania’s smoke-free fight.
  • Survivor Advocate of the Year – Jim Bischoff: Jim’s own struggle with heart disease, as well as his experience with his son-in-law’s stroke, gives him a unique perspective to share during state and federal lobby days and meetings with lawmakers. His family history inspired him to provide leadership on stroke systems of care legislation. He also dedicates his time to tobacco issues, and attends in-district meetings with his lawmaker to discuss both of these important issues.
  • Youth Advocate of the Year – Cassidy Collins: Cassidy uses her story as a congenital heart survivor to illustrate the importance of AHA’s policy issues. At the age of 16, her resume is already quite impressive – she’s met with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to advocate for tobacco control funding; she has been a top fundraiser for the Roanoke Heart Walk for two years; and she has applied to work as a youth advocate for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Check out a video below highlighting the award winners!

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How to Keep the Winning Game Going

You're the Cure on the Hill isn’t the only opportunity to connect with members of Congress! As their constituents, you have the power and the RIGHT to tell them at any time to step up to the plate on the heart and stroke issues you care about most.


Here are some tips for getting your lawmaker off the bench and into the game:

 

  • Follow them on social media and send them messages on issues you care about.
  • Sign up for their e-newsletters on their websites. This is a great way to learn about events where you can meet the lawmakers in person and stay informed.
  • Work with your local AHA advocacy staff to schedule an in-district meeting. Members of Congress come home throughout the year on recess breaks, so they use this time to meet with constituents back in the district. Take advantage of their time at home and schedule a meeting to discuss the heart and stroke issues that matter to you and your family.
  • Most importantly, take action year round. Watch your inbox for calls to action from You’re the Cure and continue engaging your lawmaker through emails, phone calls and tagging them in your social media posts.

We had a real impact this week, but we need to keep the momentum going. Let's keep reminding our members of Congress that they need to step up for heart health all year round!

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May is American Stroke Month

Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke and every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke. That is why The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is inviting all Americans to become Stroke Heroes by learning and sharing the warning signs of stroke, F.A.ST. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1).

Recognizing and responding to a stroke emergency immediately can lead to quick stroke treatment and may even save a life. Be ready!

Here is how you can participate in American Stroke Month

  • Share the F.A.S.T. acronym with your friends, family and loved ones throughout American Stroke Month.
  • Share our F.A.S.T. Quiz to test your stroke knowledge.
  • Download our free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. mobile app to prepare you in case of a stroke emergency and to have easy access.

Go to StrokeAssociation.org/StrokeMonth to learn more about how you can get involved.

 

 

 

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Advocate Spotlight: Lois Mauch

Lois Mauch North Dakota

We all want to make a difference; I had the opportunity to participate as a representative of North Dakota Society of Healthy and Physical Educators, (ND SHAPE) with the American Heart Association Lobby day. Advocacy is important no matter what your profession is and becoming a member of that profession is also just as important. 

I am a physical education teacher and now a director for a federal grant to promote physical education, physical activity and good nutrition; I was honored when asked to be a part of the American Heart Association Lobby day.  I wrote letters to my representatives and asked them to stop by the booth.  They all stopped to say hello and discuss the bills and changes we needed to make for our young people.  There were moments of frustration, gratitude, laughter, and honor.  Conversations were meaningful and satisfying and it opened new doors to look at other bills that might be sponsored in favor of a healthier America.

Advocacy requires teamwork.  Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives, and it is the fire that allows common people to attain uncommon results. Let's remember after all, our students who need heart healthy education, activities and good nutrition are about 30% of the population but they are 100% of the FUTURE! 

You, too, need to become a member of your professional organization.  Make a difference, lobby for a cause you believe in. The experience will set you on fire! You might even get in on a selfie!

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Advocate Spotlight: Joan Enderle

Early in my career as a dietitian, I learned firsthand how one person can make an impact and that a small group of individuals can shape policy at a local, state and national level. Those early experiences built my confidence to expand advocacy work to include the American Heart Association (AHA) as a volunteer. I am an active member of the You’re the Cure network.   

In June 2006, I began my career with the AHA, as the director of the Go Red For Women initiative in North Dakota.  Since that time, my role has been varied to include ND Communication Director, media advocacy, Mission: Lifeline public education campaign, and a number of special projects. 

This month I am transitioning to a new position with AHA as the regional campaign manager for the ANCHOR grant partnership program. North Dakota was selected as one of 15 markets to leverage our strategic priorities through new and expanded partnerships to accelerate population-based strategies that will reduce chronic disease and health disparities. Specific focus on procurement with our work toward increased access to environments with healthy food or beverage options in the Bismarck/Mandan communities. 

This is a natural transition that fits my strengths and passion as it builds on my professional education and past experiences. The impact of policy and environmental changes on behavior and diet are of special interest to me. I’ve seen the widespread impact of policy and environment changes to improve nutrition in home, work, school, faith communities and community settings. Nutrition changes to include increased fruit and vegetable consumption, sodium reduction, decreased sugar sweetened beverages, lower fat and increased low fat dairy consumption. 

The first couple months, I will be focused on gathering community needs assessment data, identifying and meeting with key stake holders and potential partners prior to the writing and implementation of a 12 month community action plan. 

I look forward to visiting with YTC advocates and community members as the ANCHOR grant moves forward.   Contact me at joan.enderle@heart.org or call 701-658-3046 to get involved.

Note:  Joan is pictured with her granddaughter, Madilynn. 

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It's Time to Get Moving

Adults are spending more time at work than ever before - including more time at computers and desks with less time being active.   As a nation, we are becoming more inactive.  Studies have shown that people who have a low level of activity double their risk of heart disease. 

 “The good news is you can start to fix the problem by encouraging your family, community and company to get moving” said Dr. Richard Howard, board certified interventional cardiologist with Sanford Health and medical chair of the Bismarck/Mandan Heart Walk.   “I daily discuss exercise programs with my patients and frequently encourage the use of pedometers as an inexpensive, easy to use way to measure his/her baseline activity and set goals to increase steps little by little”. 

On April 1, National Walking Day, we encouraged Americans to lace up their sneakers and take 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk. It was a great way to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and to get on the right path to a healthier way of life. Statistics show people stick to walking plans more than any other form of physical activity.   Walking is free, easy, social and great exercise.  A walking program is flexible and can be done just about anywhere. 

The American Heart Association recommends adults strive for 150 minutes of physical activity per week, while kids should get 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Thirty minutes five times a week is an easy goal to remember.  You’ll benefit even if you divide your time into two or three sessions per day of 10 to 15 minutes each.

If you don’t think you’ll make it of 30 minutes, set a more reachable goal. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time each week as you get stronger.  Remember, something is always better than nothing.  Don’t let all-or-nothing thinking keep you from doing what you can every day.   

In addition to taking time out of your day to get up and walk, consider forming a team to participate in one of the local American Heart Association North Dakota Heart Walks in May.  You can form a team with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers.  The event is an opportunity for people to improve their health and simultaneously raise funds to help fight heart disease and stroke.  It is a fun family environment that promotes heart-healthy living (healthy cooking demonstrations, kids zone, health screenings, survivor story, etc.) 

North Dakota Heart Walks:

To find the North Dakota Heart Walk near you go to www.heart.org/NorthDakota 

For more information about walking and living a healthy lifestyle visit: www.heart.org/physicalactivity.

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Legislature Approves Stroke System of Care

Great news on stroke care for North Dakota!  The North Dakota legislature passed our stroke bill unanimously in both houses and last week it was signed by Governor Dalrymple.  What does this mean for North Dakota and stroke?

The North Dakota Stroke System of Care includes all the stakeholders involved with stroke awareness, education, response, treatment and rehabilitative care.  It includes hospitals of all sizes, EMS community, 911 dispatch, neurologists and other specialty physicians, critical access hospital directors of nursing, hospital stroke coordinators, the North Dakota Department of Health, UND Center for Rural Health, American Heart Association and North Dakota elected officials.  All partners play a key role in our Stroke System of Care. 

What does that mean for those who experience stroke?  First of all, we want to prevent stroke whenever possible.  Attention to sodium intake, diet, exercise is key.  Second, we want early intervention and recognition of stroke symptoms so that patients get to definitive care as soon as possible.  Education, recognition, intervention and treatment are all a part of the North Dakota System of care. 

The stroke system of care will develop regional transport plans based on hospital designation and capabilities.  It will target the leading risk factor for stroke – high blood pressure – and provide education and awareness to help prevent stroke from happening in the first place.  There will be continued education to improve upon care measures and track performance.  The stroke system of care will aim toward more timely activation of 9-1-1 so that EMS can initiate care sooner for improved outcomes.  It will work to address the growing trend of younger stroke victims and greater access to rehabilitative services.

While this bill was being discussed among legislators, it was noted that our legislature makes investments in infrastructure for roads, bridges, water and other key economic development needs.  Therefore, investment in our health care systems of care is also an important investment for North Dakota.  It was that kind of mindset, and consistent, effective communication by our volunteer advocates who helped to secure this legislative victory. 

We couldn’t be prouder of North Dakota for taking this step forward to address stroke in our state.  It provides an outstanding model for other states to follow. 

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Legislative Update - Report from the Front Lines

North Dakota lawmakers gave their initial stamp of approval to nearly 600 bills before breaking for a three-day recess last Thursday, and a new state revenue forecast in mid-March will set the stage for the second half of the session.

For the last 37 days, lawmakers have been busy working on bills in their respective chambers. House and Senate lawmakers advanced a combined 599 bills – 70 percent of the 852 bills introduced – during the session’s first 38 days, while 249 bills failed and four were withdrawn. The vast majority of the bills will now be taken up in the opposite chamber which means it's time for cross-over.  That's when they start working on bills passed by the other chamber.

Most refer to the past two months as the “first half”.  AHA has always looked at session in thirds – first third sorting through the bills that survive to cross-over, second third giving the other chamber an opportunity to work, and then the important part of the legislative session - conference committee work.  This is when six legislators, 3 from each chamber, can meet to work through differences in each chamber’s work.  Last session, when our CPR in Schools funding bill had an opportunity to go to conference committee, we opted to encourage going with one chamber’s version, feeling we didn’t want to risk what we secured by that point.  This session, with several important areas of AHA interest in agency budget bills, we will be actively engaged in that 3rd part of session committee work during April.

Here is how we have fared so far:

  • Stroke System of Care (HB 1323):  This bill passed unanimously in House Human Services and the full House.  It was heard Wednesday, March 4 in Senate Human Services.  The bill is doing well due to: 1) stakeholder support of updating the century code to reflect important elements of system work; 2) survivor stories showing the impact of coordinated response and rehabilitation care; and 3) successful outcomes of our ND stroke work.  For example, the percent of acute ischemic stroke patients who arrived at the hospital within 2 hours of time last known well and for whom IV t-PA was initiated within 3 hours increased from 30.9% in 2010 to 80.9% in 2013.  This treatment improvement helps to reduce brain loss due to stroke by clearing out clots preventing blood flow to areas of the brain. That is significant!
  • Funding Bills:  Our priority issues have been challenged by the revenue forecasts at the beginning of session.  Given oil production is up in North Dakota, we hope the new projections in March will help move these funding areas forward:
    • Senate Action:  The Senate continues with strong support for CPR being taught in schools, and has added language into the Department of Public Instruction agency budget to continue funding, and to extend the resources to the junior high level.  We appreciate DPI’s support of this continued invest also.
    • House Action:  The House opted to not add in new funding opportunities into the Department of Health budget, and made cuts into the Governor’s proposed budget.  However, we know our advocates have been impactful on the needs for the key heart and stroke funding priorities, and during conference committee work we may gain some traction.  So as HB 1004 makes it way to the Senate, we are focused on:
      • Cardiac System of Care funding:  With available grant funding coming to an end, the cardiac system needs a small base of funding to continue its work of public, EMS and hospital collaborative work to ensure timely, appropriate care for acute cardiovascular events.
      • EMS Database system:  Our EMS responders are working with outdated programs for capturing response runs, which no longer receive vendor support.  This is a request for mostly one time funding, and if successful, will provide our acute care field providers with improved health information and also our state with invaluable information related to field care.
      • Million Hearts Funding:  We know high blood pressure and tobacco use are driving cardiac and stroke events.  Yet no prevention funding is available to start addressing the leading risk factor – high blood pressure, and that funding support for smoking cessation access falls short of CDC guidance.

And of course there are a number of other bills we are watching and engaging on as appropriate.  It’s been a busy first half!

Our advocates have been instrumental in our progress to date.  I love hearing from legislators on committees and in the halls saying they are hearing from you.  Your voice does make a difference as we work the halls.  Keep up the great work as we navigate the next two core decision-making opportunities!

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What's Up with School Nutrition?

There is a lot of discussion out there about school nutrition – and we couldn’t be happier about that!  Students consume 35% - 50% of their daily caloric intake at school where they are often exposed to junk foods and sugar-sweetened beverages that have little to no nutritional value.  Parents – and students – have concerns about the nutritional value of the foods their kids are consuming at school. Schools are in a unique position to provide a healthy environment by promoting and providing nutritious meals. 

CLICK HERE for an informational video about school nutrition. 

Here is what we know:  In December 2010, the President signed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to update national nutrition standards for school meals and establish nutrition standards for other foods sold in schools throughout the school day.  As a result, in school year 2013-2014, nearly 90% of schools in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) met nutritional standards, up from 14% in 2009-2010.  That means an overwhelming majority of children are receiving heart-healthy lunches while at school. 

We also know that a healthy school environment, including healthy nutrition, helps improve children’s physical well-being, enhances learning, minimizes behavior problems and increases attendance. 

The evidence is overwhelming that the new school meal standards are working.  Going into child nutrition reauthorization for 2015, the American Heart Association advocates for:

  • Continued support to schools for effective implementation of the federal nutrition standards for school meals.
  • Continued strong implementation of Smart Snacks in School standards. These standards include reducing sodium; eliminating trans fat; decreasing saturated far; minimizing fried foods; offering healthy beverage options; and increasing the offering of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, and low-fat dairy. 
  • Continued robust technical assistance by the USDA to support schools in implementing nutrition standards, effective nutrition education, and nutrition promotion and model local wellness policies with effective implementation and evaluation. 
  • Investments in kitchen equipment and infrastructure that can help schools serve healthier meals. 

Source: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/ahaecc-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_463491.pdf

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Advocate Spotlight: Sharon Buhr, Susan Milender, and Andrea Winter

Valley City, North Dakota

School Wellness is all about partnerships in Valley City. In 2012 when schools were asked to revise and strengthen their school wellness policies, the local nutrition and exercise partnership, Barnes ON THE MOVE Partnership (OTM-17 members strong), stepped forth and volunteered to work with Valley City Public Schools (VCPS).  Sharon Buhr, MPH, LRD was the chair of OTM and also chair-person of the local school board.  She teamed up with Susan Milender, LRD, who was then the Nutrition Services Director of VCPS to take the lead.

Together they established the process for the revision, setting a timeline using the WELSAT tool for evaluation of the present policy, included administration, teachers, parents and students and then ended up back at the school board in the summer of 2012 with the final product.

The VCPS Wellness Policy recognizes that the school can have a positive effect on the community.  The policy identifies that anyone who uses the school and chooses to serve a food, must also serve a fruit or vegetable so that there will always be a healthy choice available.

To help the various school booster clubs meet the nutrition guidelines of the wellness policy (as well as other community booster clubs) Sharon and Susan, along with Andrea Winter, LRD chose to hold a “Healthy Concession Food Expo” in both 2013 and in 2014.  They again looked to partner with other groups, such as the students in Fuel Up to Play 60 and the Girl Scouts.    An array of fast, healthy and easy to prepare foods were served for attendees to sample.  Follow up after the event proved the success of the event as more clubs added healthier items (that were featured at the expo) to their menu. 

For more information on the “Healthy Concession Food Expo” or other VCPS Wellness Policy ideas, contact Sharon Buhr at 845-6456 or sharonbuhr@catholichealth.net.  For a copy of the VCPS Wellness Policy go to www.valley-city.k12.nd.us and click on policies.

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