American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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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.

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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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Join Us at the Capitol on Feb 2nd for 2016 WV Advocacy Day!

February is quickly approaching, which makes today the perfect time to register and make plans to join us for WV Advocacy Day: You're the Cure at the Capitol on February 2nd. Join others from across the Mountain State as we meet with lawmakers in support of heart-health policies, like protecting WV's local smoke-free regulations.

As you may know, during the 2015 WV Legislative Session, several bills were introduced that would roll back smoke-free laws in your favorite venues that have been smoke-free for years. We anticipate that there will be more attempts in the 2016 session and we need your voice!

Simply register today, make plans to join us on February 2nd and we'll take care of the rest!

What: American Heart Association WV Advocacy Day

When: February 2, 2016, 8:30 am - 1 pm

Where: State Capitol, Charleston, WV

Take a moment now to register, and then watch your inbox for more details as the date approaches.

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2016 Is the Year We Make KY No. 28: Register Now for KY Advocacy Day on Feb 9th!

Now is the perfect time to register and make plans to join us for Kentucky Advocacy Day: You're the Cure at the Capitol. Join others from across the state as we meet with lawmakers in support of heart-health policies, like ensuring all Kentucky students are trained in lifesaving hands-only CPR.

Twenty-seven states now have policies in place to ensure all students are trained in hands-only CPR. Your voice on February 9th can help make Kentucky No. 28!

Arrival/Check-in: 8:30-9 am in Capitol Annex (Room TBD)
Issue Overview/Q&A: 9-9:30 am
Scheduled Meetings With Lawmakers: 9:30 am - 1 pm (Lunch in Capitol Cafeteria at your convenience)
Media Event in Capitol Rotunda: 1-1:30 pm

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY and then watch your inbox for more information as the event nears!

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North Texas Advocates are "Part of the Puzzle"

Here at the American Heart Association, Life is Why we work to eliminate heart disease and stroke. You're the Cure Advocates are Why we are able to create healthier lives and communities through policy change!

On Saturday, November 14, seventeen You’re the Cure volunteers from all over North Texas gathered in Fort Worth for the first ever SouthWest Affiliate Regional Advocate Summit. The theme of the Summit was “Part of the Puzzle,” because each volunteer's personal story fits into the advocacy puzzle! By meeting other volunteers, sharing their stories, and becoming more familiar with the You're the Cure network, advocates gained skills to help the AHA accomplish our mission and make a difference in helping to fight heart disease and stroke in their communities.

The day started off with volunteers sharing their stories, thanks to State Advocacy Committee member Amanda Salinas leading a Life is Why photo puzzle activity. Next, volunteer leaders and staff provided the policy framework for those personal stories. Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Grassroots Director Victoria Nelson introduced the AHA's public policy portfolio in Texas, State Advocacy Committee member Connie Kerr led a discussion about smoke-free community efforts in North Texas, and Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign Specialist Stephanie Haskell Blade taught the advocates about statewide healthy food access initiatives. Then, Senior Grassroots Director Vanessa Fuentes led a virtual tour of You're the Cure and challenged advocates to take their activism to the next level and move up the ranks by taking action, such as authoring letters to the editor or providing testimony at legislative meetings! Finally, Arkansas Grassroots Manager Allison Hogue, a special guest for the day, led a media advocacy discussion and invited volunteers to share lessons about engaging with lawmakers, before everyone practiced answering tricky questions about healthy food access. The key was sticking to their Why!

Thank you to the following volunteers for attending: State Advocacy Committee members Connie Kerr, Amanda Salinas, and Tim Hauter; Grassroots Action Team member Laura Mitchell; and Chandra Ellis, Francisca Trevino, Tammy McKinney, Amanda Denton, Jack Denton, Sydney Tilger, Saida Santiago, Toya Norton, Laura De Hoyos, Wesley Trammel, Debra McKnight, Nancy Healey, and Towry Barnard. Everyone left excited to be involved more deeply with You’re the Cure! This would not have been possible without Vanessa Fuentes, Stephanie Haskell Blade, Allison Hogue, Senior Director of Policy Campaigns Christopher Roller, and Texas Senior Government Relations Director Kaitlyn Murphy. 

The You're the Cure community is all about giving you, our advocates, the tools you need to raise your voice to fight heart disease and stroke in your communities. The North Texas Advocate Summit was a great opportunity for us to do so, and to get to know you better too! Stay tuned for more of these Summits in Texas.

Put your Why into action! Reach out to Vanessa Fuentes ( or Victoria Nelson ( to learn of upcoming You're the Cure opportunities in Texas.

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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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Davidson County World Stroke Day Proclamation

On Oct. 20, 2015, the Davidson County Metro Council proclaimed October 29, World Stroke Day!

World Stroke Day, established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006, is observed worldwide on October 29 to underscore the serious nature and high rates of stroke, raise awareness of the prevention and treatment of the condition, and ensure better care and support for survivors. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association supports World Stroke Day by educating Americans about the stroke warning signs and the importance of taking action immediately. While stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S., many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern.

World Stroke Day will play a crucial role in Tennessee during the 2016 legislative session. This year, the American Heart Association will work to get Stroke Designation legislation passed to create a stroke system of care in the state. Timely access to a hospital that has the systems in place to provide specialized stroke care can often make the difference between life and death, or between ability and disability.

To learn more about stroke, please visit

Pictured left to right: Councilman Dave Rosenberg, Kiersten Brown Espaillat, APN-BC, Stroke Coordinator at Vanderbilt, and Newt Williams, volunteer.

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We're Feeling Grateful

As AHA Advocacy staff, we get to work alongside the most remarkable volunteers- like YOU! We get to see lives improved and lives saved as a result of the work we’ve done together, and for that, we're grateful.

As You’re the Cure volunteers, you share personal stories of loved ones lost too soon, of survival, or of triumph over heart disease or stroke- all because you know your stories will make a difference in someone else’s life. It is often those stories that convince lawmakers to pass the policies making our communities healthier.

Because of you, more babies are being screened with Pulse Ox and having their heart defects corrected before it’s too late. Because of you, people in communities around the country have been saved by students who learned CPR in school. Because of you, people are getting better stroke care, families have safe places for active play, fewer people are smoking, and kids are eating healthier food at school.  The impact you’re making is incredible, and our communities are better places- because of you.

You make us cry. You share your joy. You inspire us. You amaze us. And we’re just so grateful for all you do.

We’re including YOU as we count our blessings this month, and we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!   

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