American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Express support for Alabama Healthy Beverage!

It’s no secret that Alabama is in a budget crisis. What’s even more disheartening is public health in our state. We have some of the highest rates of cardiovascular-related deaths, diabetes and childhood obesity in the nation.

Our financial future looks bleak but quality of life looks even bleaker. That’s why we believe a sugary beverage tax would be a smart, long-term solution for Alabama.

Now is a great time for this initiative. Not only will the sugar-sweetened beverage tax generate $218 million for the State of Alabama each year, it also will reduce consumption of unhealthy drinks. Let’s encourage our children to enjoy water, milk, and 100% fruit juice instead of sugary sodas. These options won’t be taxed under the sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

We raise our kids to do well in school and to be polite. Let’s also point them to the correct choices for their health.

Tell legislators to support #ALHealthyBev today!




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Scarborough rocks and learns

I love summer. I also love disco music.

That is why I was excited to bring my daughter to the Scarborough Music in the Park event in mid-July. Motor Booty Affair (a disco cover band) was playing and the night was beautiful.

The best part—it was work.

The Scarborough Fire Department teamed up with the American Heart Association to teach Hands Only CPR to the exuberant crowd. An AHA board member spoke briefly and the band played Stayin’ Alive. We, and the Scarborough FD, rushed into the audience with our manikins and demonstrated and taught CPR to the 2,300 in attendance.

It was a fun night. It made me grateful that events like this, and the fact that all Maine high schools must teach Hands Only CPR, means that tens of thousands of people across our state will be able to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest.

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Treasure these days

My daughter loves digging in the sand for buried treasure. When she was a toddler, we snuck some skee ball tickets in to the sand when she was not looking. We did the same again this past weekend, only this time we really made her dig for them. The smile on her face when she unearthed the tickets was priceless. As I sat and walked on the beach, I looked around at the other people enjoying the (short) Maine summer. Kids were running back and forth, body surfing and chasing seagulls. These kids were definitely getting their exercise. However, I also noticed the 20-oz. bottles of Coke in their hands and the copious amounts of junk food on their towels.

It is very hard to eat a healthy diet at this particular beach unless you pack food from home. Trust me, I have tried. Fries, fried dough and pizza rule the day here. I could not help but think about a webinar I attended on sodium and kids. The amount of sodium in the food sold at restaurants often far exceeds the amount that school-aged kids need. Most kids only need 1,500 mg a day.

The good news is that when these kids finally get the sand out of their hair and head off to school in the fall, their lunches will have less sodium. An old school lunch at your typical middle school could have about 1,500 mg.—a full day sodium in one meal. The current standards, adopted last year, reduce that amount slightly—with a target of no more than 1,360mg. The standards for the 2018 school lunches will be 860, still more than half of what kids need, but much better than the full day supply they were receiving and about equal to a fast-food cheeseburger and fries. Not a heavy lift.

However, the food industry has gotten to the US Senate in an effort to roll back and delay these important standards. Unbelievably they are actually making headway. The American Heart Association knows that the science is strong, that sodium causes increased high blood pressure in kids and teens, leading to serious health problems down the road.

The American Heart Association knows that our kids are our treasure and that if we want them to be able to enjoy beach weekends with their kids (and maybe sneak some skee ball tickets into the sand), we need to do what we can to keep them healthy.

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Cardiac System of Care Conference Set for September

In April, 2010 the Helmsley Charitable Trust awarded the American Heart Association an $8.4 million grant to build a STEMI system of care in the state of South Dakota. The Mission Lifeline project has transitioned into the South Dakota Cardiac System of Care. The American Heart Association and the South Dakota Department of Rural Health are collaborating to bring the first Cardiac System of Care Conference to healthcare providers in South Dakota.

The focus of this conference is to continue the momentum of improvement in care by presenting information helpful to enhance the system of care for ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) patients and improve outcomes. There is also a focus related to the LUCAS™ 2 Chest Compression System device purchased by the South Dakota Department of Health through funding received from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. This three-year, $3.7 million investment in lifesaving equipment will improve survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest.

When: September 9, 2015, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Where: Red Rossa Italian Grill, 808 W. Sioux Ave. #200, Pierre, South Dakota 

The conference is free of charge and will cover topics such as Pre-hospital and hospital Resuscitation, pre-hospital cooling and case studies, LUCAS annotations, time critical decision making, community awareness and engagement, feedback loop to improve systems. The SD SIM trucks will also be available to conduct refresher training in the LUCAS device and 12 Lead EKG acquisition.

The target audience for this conference is South Dakota physicians, nurses and EMS providers.

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Keep Moving Toward Healthy School Meals!

Members of Mission Readiness, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Seiben and Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Schulstad wrote an Op/Ed in MinnPost yesterday on making sure schools are serving healthy food, check it out!

Two retired Air Force generals and a school food-service director would appear, at first glance, to have little in common. But our experiences have led us to the same conclusion: America's childhood obesity epidemic must be reversed, and healthy school meals are critical to our success.

In Minnesota, more than 14 percent of children ages 10 to 17, and more than 25 percent of adults (including more than 1 in 5 adults here in Hennepin County), are obese. Obesity is also a leading reason why 69 percent of young Minnesotans are ineligible for military service.

What accounts for such alarming numbers? In short, too many children eat too much junk food and don't get enough exercise, trends that often continue into adulthood. In addition to the negative health effects, this problem threatens to diminish our military strength and our national security. Continue Reading Here

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Celebrate Ten Years of Smoke Free Restaurants and Bars in Vermont on September 1st!

Vermont has been enjoying smoke free bars and restaurants for some time thanks to advocates like you so come and celebrate with us!

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years but on September 1, 2005, Vermont eliminated a large loophole in the 1993 Smoking in Public Places Law that allowed smoking in all bars and many restaurants.

This so-called Cabaret Exemption exposed hundreds of Vermont workers to dangerous levels of secondhand smoke, while most other Vermont employees were protected from secondhand smoke by the 1987 Smoking in the Workplace Law.

By passing this law, the Vermont Legislature made a strong statement that every Vermonter should be able to earn a living without risking their health.

This public health success didn’t happen on its own. It was due to the work of a vast and strong coalition of advocates, health professionals, restaurant and bar employees, lawmakers and YOU! Celebrate with us!

 Please help us celebrate this major victory for public health on Tuesday, September 1st, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Burlington.

This event is being sponsored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Doubletree by Hilton Burlington and the University of Vermont Medical Center. It is supported by the Vermont Department of Health.

Please RSVP if you'd like to attend by contacting Ron Douglass at 876-6860 or by August 26.

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Let’s Serve Our Kids Better!

We’re taking on a new policy effort to eliminate sugary drinks and set nutrition standards in restaurant kids’ meals. Only 3% of kids' meals options are healthy.

People are eating out more than ever. In fact, nearly half of all food dollars are spent on restaurant meals. That means kids in our community are eating many of their meals outside the home, positioning restaurants as a prime source of their nutrition. That’s why it’s so important that restaurant kids’ meals be healthy.

 But right now, most restaurant children’s meals are too high in calories, fat, salt, and sugar, with too few whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And when children eat out often and the options are unhealthy, kids are conditioned to eat poorly and assume eating unhealthy options is the norm and acceptable. A lifetime of eating unhealthy food can lead to serious health consequences such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

 You can help us do something about this. Support our effort to eliminate sugary drinks and set nutritional standards for restaurant children’s meals. Time is of the essence; in the face of the obesity epidemic, we want our kids to be healthy now. With policies in place to ensure kids’ meals include healthy options, restaurants, the state, and families can work together to serve kids better.


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Jane Kolodinsky Takes on Role of AHA Vermont Advocacy Committee Chair

A long-time advocate for a sugary drink excise tax in Vermont will now chair the American Heart Association’s Vermont Advocacy Committee and help promote nutrition standards and the removal of sugary drinks in restaurants kids’ meals.

Professor Jane Kolodinsky is also the chair of the University of Vermont’s Department of
Community Development and Applied Economics.  Addressing the AHA’s goal of setting nutrition standards in restaurant kids’ meals makes sense to her as it’s a topic she is familiar with.

Jane is a co-author of a chapter entitled, Childhood Obesity, Food Choice and Market Influence” in the book “Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity.” One of the findings discussed in the publication is that the number of kids eating at fast food restaurants has increased over time.  Fast food restaurants are so popular that adolescents tend to eat at them twice a week and, on a typical day, 30% of youth aged 4-19 consume fast food.

Jane notes that with fast food being higher in fat and energy, children get a disproportionate number of their recommended daily calories at these establishments. Improving the nutrition of all restaurant kids meals will be an important step as dietary patterns are formed early in life.

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2016 Policy Planning Underway in Rhode Island

The 2016 Legislative Session might seem a long way off…but for the dedicated advocates who serve on the Rhode Island Advocacy Committee, summer is the perfect time to start gearing up for another successful year!  There are many steps that go into our policy planning process.  Staff work closely with RI Advocacy Committee members to conduct research and assess different policies, and based on that rigorous analysis the group collectively identifies 5-6 areas that will be the focus of our 2016 policy agenda.  Once the group approves the agenda, they develop comprehensive campaign plans that will help guide us to victory.  Campaign strategies include grassroots and grasstops advocacy, direct lobbying and media advocacy.  Needless to say, You’re the Cure advocates like YOU play a critical role in our efforts.  Beginning this fall and throughout the legislative session, we need your help to educate lawmakers and keep the pressure on so they move our bills.  Advocates are also encouraged to attend our RI Lobby Day which will be held in May 2016 (more info to come!).

So, what policy issues are rising to the top of the list?  We have a couple of issues that are carryovers from the 2015 Legislative Session – we will continue to prioritize CPR in Schools funding; updates to Rhode Island’s school nutrition/competitive foods law which covers all foods and beverages sold outside of and in competition with the school meals program (vending, a la carte, fundraising, etc.); and, school marketing to ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised/marketed to children on school property.  We are excited to add 1-2 new issues to the line-up as well.  Sneak peak – there is a lot of interest among advocates and partners to launch a campaign related to physical education in schools.  Perhaps we can take the first step in 2016?

Please stay tuned for more details!  The RI Advocacy Committee plans to finalize the 2016 policy agenda by the end of August.  If you have any questions or would like to get more involved with the American Heart Association’s policy work in Rhode Island, please contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations at

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SAVE THE DATE: Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition Breakfast

SAVE THE DATE for the Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition “Breakfast for School Leaders Symposium 2015" on Thursday, September 24th, 7:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.  The American Heart Association is excited to cosponsor this annual event which brings together superintendents, district administration, school committee members, food service directors, community wellness partners and parent leaders from all 36 school districts in the state for an informative presentation and discussion of current school wellness issues, best practices and challenges.  Register HERE beginning August 24th. 

The Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition (RIHSC) consists of over 100 members representing over 100 RI organizations, schools and districts committed to working towards the achievement of better health through nutrition and physical activity in RI public schools.  For more information visit:

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