American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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One Step Closer to Healthy Food Just Around the Corner!

Last month, the New Jersey Senate came one step closer to creating a statewide Healthy Corner Store Initiative in New Jersey. On November 16, the Senate Economic Growth Committee voted 4-0 to release the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act from the committee. This means the bill is one step closer to becoming law!

The Healthy Small Food Retailer Act would create a fund to provide resources that small food retailers need to offer healthier food in their stores, especially in areas that lack nearby grocery stores. There are a number of local programs that have been successful, but New Jersey would be the first state to have a statewide Healthy Corner Stores initiative.

We thank Senator Lesniak, Senator Cruz-Perez, Senator Oroho and Senator Whelan for voting in favor of the legislation. We look forward to continuing to work with our advocates as the bill progresses.

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Complete Streets are Safe and Convenient for All Users

When the NH Legislature reconvenes in January, the American Heart Association will be ready to advocate for policies which help create healthier environments for residents and visitors to the Granite State. Legislators will consider one such policy that will have long-term benefits to improving the health and vitality of our communities. Complete Streets is a term to describe projects which create roadways that are safe and convenient for all modes of transportation, including bicycles and pedestrians. A Complete Street approach supports good practices to designing roads that incorporate accessible sidewalks, bike lanes, safe street crossings, and other features that will encourage more physical activity. In fact, people living in walkable communities are shown to get 35 to 45 more minutes of moderate physical activity per week than low-walkable neighborhoods. Other benefits of Complete Streets are reduced traffic injuries, improved access to downtown shopping areas and parks and other economic gains for cities and towns.

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AHA Presents on Healthy Food Access at Southern Obesity Summit

Mid-November marked the 2015 Southern Obesity Summit in Jackson, MS. The conference was well attended by advocates, community leaders, government officials, healthcare providers, educators, and the like, from across 16 southern states. Advocacy team members Terri Broussard Williams, Kaitlyn Murphy, and Christina Holch represented the SouthWest Affiliate!

Christina, as the Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign Director, was awarded the opportunity to develop and present a poster at the annual meeting. A major focus of this year’s conference was food access, making  the Voices for Healthy Kids Campaign Team’s recent work both timely and relevant. The poster, entitled “Messaging Healthy Food Financing Initiatives in Southern States: Tales from Texas,” spoke to the campaign team’s efforts to pass both Healthy Food Financing and Healthy Corner Store policies at the state and local level in Texas. The poster described the unique challenges that a conservative state faces with respect to public health policy change, and demonstrated the messaging opportunities chosen by the campaign team. In order to make progress on a Healthy Food Financing Initiative in the state legislature, the campaign team had to carefully tailor their messaging to the desires of a fiscally conservative state House and Senate. Additionally, the team had to be nimble and open to an evolving campaign message.  On the other hand, in order to pass a municipal-level Healthy Corner Store Initiative in a diverse city like Austin, the team learned that campaign messaging could and should focus more on the public health impact. During the Tuesday morning poster presentations, a number of attendees asked Christina questions about the campaign, and praised the work being done by the American Heart Association to prevent obesity in Texas. The poster communicated the progress made by both campaigns as well as the team’s future opportunities for improving food access and preventing obesity.

For more information, please contact

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With more children at risk for heart disease, make healthy changes this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from the American Heart Association! This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for all of our amazing advocates who take the time to help us save lives, whether it is coming to the Capitol for an Advocating for Heart Day or simply educating family and friends about the importance of heart health. There is a lot of work to be done to reach our impact goal of reducing heart disease and stroke by 20% by the year 2020, and we are so grateful to have you all by our side to help us achieve that goal!

Because this is everyone’s favorite holiday to relax and eat lots of good food, we’d like to take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on an area of heart health that sometimes goes unnoticed: childhood obesity. We recently wrapped up the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, a conference where the nation’s leaders in heart and stroke research come together to share their findings. There were many studies presented, including one about the heart health of obese children. This report is particularly troubling as it shows that children as young as 8 years old are starting to develop signs of heart disease:

“‘Parents should be highly motivated to help their children maintain a healthy weight,’ said Linyuan Jing, Ph.D. … ‘Ultimately we hope that the effects we see in the hearts of these children are reversible; however, it is possible that there could be permanent damage. This should be further motivation for parents to help children lead a healthy lifestyle.’”

Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which means that they are more likely to suffer from preventable chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. So this Thanksgiving, we’ve prepared a lot of resources, including this video, to help families take those necessary steps toward enjoying the holiday both happily and healthfully.

We always hear, “I’ll start after the holidays,” but making healthy eating a lifestyle begins with making small changes every day. So don’t wait, start today by checking out for holiday tips, recipes, and more!

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State Advocacy Committee News Update

On November 21, the North Carolina American Heart Association Advocacy Coordinating Committee met to celebrate achievements, bestow advocacy honors and discuss policy priorities. The committee had much to celebrate this year including the passage of stroke center designation rules, advancement of the healthy corner store initiative legislation, and significant progress in local communities for healthy vending and tobacco control policies.

During the meeting, the committee recognized three individuals for their advocacy efforts that help advance the AHA mission.


  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Friend Award was presented to Senator Don Davis for his leadership to advance HB 250/SB 296 Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.
  • The 2015 NC AHA Heart of a Champion Award was presented to Drexdal Pratt, Director of Health Service Regulation for his work for more than a decade to promote high impact policies that save lives including the Good Samaritan laws, stroke and STEMI transport protocols, stroke center designation, and pulse oximetry screening.
  • The 2015 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence was presented to Valerie King for her strong leadership in You’re the Cure.

This meeting also provided time to recognize the 2014-2016 Committee for their service and install the 2016-2018 NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee. Juddson Rupp and Yolanda Dickerson will co-chair the committee for the next term. The committee works closely with AHA staff partners to provide strategic leadership for the NC AHA advocacy program and coordinates You’re the Cure activities including state lobby day.

Committee members spent time discussing the top priorities for 2016. Efforts will continue to advance HB 250/SB 296 with full funding to create a statewide healthy corner store initiative. In addition, You’re the Cure will be working to expand affordable health insurance to those caught in the coverage gap with no other options available to them. Locally efforts will continue to promote healthy vending policies local governments to ensure employees have access to healthy food choices while at work.

If you are interested in learning more about the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, please contact Betsy Vetter.

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A Victory for Improving PE!

Before the beginning of the next school year, New York City parents will know whether or not their child receives adequate physical education. Thanks to you all - our You're the Cure network - the PE Reporting Bill is now law in New York City after nearly 5 years of effort!

Thanks to your advocacy, on October 29th, the City Council voted unanimously in support of the bill.  And fast forward just a few days later... on November 4th, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the PE Reporting bill into law!

Our campaign is not over yet.  We had hoped that the report would include some details related to other quality criteria, such as the description of the curriculum used by each school for their PE programs.  We think parents deserve to know what their kids are being taught, and if the school uses current, evidence-based curriculum. Additionally, when we see the first report due in August (and every August thereafter), we expect there will be additional work ahead to help schools further improve their PE programs.  So rest up because our fight continues!

But for now, let's celebrate our new PE Reporting Law!  Thanks to you, our Council champions, Comptroller Stringer and Mayor de Blasio...our city is taking strong steps in the right direction to help us achieve our mission - quality physical education for every student in New York City!


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Idaho Children Deserve Quality Physical Education

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

Physical education is crucial to our children’s health. Research has shown that a high quality physical education program can not only reduce the rates of childhood obesity and associated chronic diseases, but can also help children develop interest in physical activities that carries throughout their lifetime. Unfortunately, during tight financial times, many schools look to physical education as one of the first programs to cut in order to save money. But we know this is a mistake, as the benefit of physical education is more than just improved health.

Studies show that physical activity also benefits children (as well as adults!) by elevating brain activity, increasing attention span and ability to focus which can lead to improved academic performance, and reduced disciplinary problems in the classroom. The effects of a high quality physical education program extend well beyond the gym, which is why the AHA/ASA supports quality PE in schools.

Many Idaho schools have struggled to sustain their PE programs, and during the 2016 Legislative Session, the AHA/ ASA will be working to ensure every child has access to a high quality physical education, which includes a minimum number of minutes for moderate to vigorous activity as well as certified instructors. We will also work with each and every legislator to help them understand how PE benefits children now, through improved academic performance, as well as in the future long term health improvements and cost savings.

We will also continue our work with the Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the SHAPE Idaho organization, and many other community partners to help strengthen support for every school to have a high quality PE program. We know the results of Physical Education will help students academically, as well as establishing lifelong healthy habits that allow active kids to become active adults.

Please contact me at if PE in schools matters to you. We need your help!

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Register Now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day 2016!

Register now for the Minnesotans for Healthy Kids Coalition Lobby Day!
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55102
8:00 AM—4:00 PM
Register online now!

Or call 952-278-7928 by March 2, 2016
Join other advocates from Minnesota to speak with legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of active living, physical activity and combating childhood obesity.  Attend workshops and  training and utilize those skills when you meet with your state legislators.
This year's issues include:
Quality Physical Education
Safer Walking and Biking
Breakfast and lunch included.  There is no cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

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Nutrition On the Go Can Be Easy!

On November 4th, we celebrated National Eating Healthy Day to encourage everyone to resolve to eat healthy. We know eating healthy meals in an on-the-go lifestyle can be quite the challenge.  So how can we make sure we are making smart choices? 

With holiday parties around the corner and all of the other great things that come between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, is it possible to keep the resolve to eat healthy? Did you know the American Heart Association has heart healthy recipes on our website that you can enjoy? For instance check out this tailgate chili recipe for the next time you are planning that ballgame viewing party!  What a way to make your next gathering more nutritiously delicious.

This is just one example, and you can find more in our heart healthy guide to seasonal eating here!

Finally, we have an idea for you!

We often say that you should be building the relationship with your lawmaker. Consider inviting your lawmaker to join you in the journey to overall better health. Simply take a moment to send them your favorite AHA recipe, and add a few sentences about your why you are making healthy eating a priority. Maybe your lawmaker will feature that recipe in an upcoming newsletter!

If you need help to find your lawmakers, contact your Grassroots Director and she will be happy to share that information with you! If you are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia, contact Keltcie Delamar, and if you are in the Carolinas, email Kim Chidester!

We wish everyone happy, heart-healthy eating!

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.


As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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