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Summit Focuses on Advancing Million Hearts in Rhode Island

A state summit was held on August 9th entitled “Advancing Million Hearts: American Heart Association and Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Partners Working Together in Rhode Island.”  

The purpose of the meeting was to connect the American Heart Association, Rhode Island Department of Health and other state and local heart disease and stroke prevention partners to establish and engage in meaningful relationships around Million Hearts efforts.

Million Hearts is a national initiative that started in 2012 with an ambitious goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The American Heart Association is a national partner.

Million Hearts aims to prevent heart attacks and strokes by:

  • Improving access to effective care.
  • Improving quality of care for the ABCS of heart health:
    • Aspirin when appropriate.
    • Blood pressure control.
    • Cholesterol management.
    • Smoking cessation.
  • Focusing clinical attention on the prevention of heart attack and stroke.
  • Activating the public to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle.
  • Improving the prescription and adherence to appropriate medications for the ABCS.

To learn more about Million Hearts click the following link: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/

 

 

 

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Shantha Diaz, Rhode Island

I lost both my parents to heart attacks.  They were in their 70’s and I thought it was the norm. 5 years ago I lost my brother to a heart attack.  He was only 56 years old. This was my wake up call.

Based on my family history my doctor ran some tests.  The result was not pretty.  The results indicated “I was a ticking bomb, a classic case to have a stroke or an attack.”  I felt my doctor had read me my rights. He told me that it was time I made some lifestyle changes myself. 

I was at a cross road.  I was educated that cardiac events are preventable.  I was presented with options and the decision was mine.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I chose the path of prevention. I followed a plant based nutritional program and started exercising. I lost 40 pounds and reversed my condition!  I’m living proof that prevention is the cure.

My husband Henry has been the biggest cheerleader.  He supported me in changing my lifestyle and together we are healthier than before.

My family inspires me.  My grand baby is WHY I continue on the journey “Prevention is Better than Cure.”

 

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Governor Raimondo Signs AEDs in Schools Bill into Law

On July 6th, Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law a bill that will require AEDs in all public and private middle and high schools in the state.  AEDs will also be required at school-sponsored athletic events and someone trained in the use of the AED must also be present.  This bill was championed by one of our amazing volunteers, Sara Bonneau, who has a son with a congenital heart defect.  It truly highlights how a passionate advocate can inspire change! The American Heart Association was happy to support this important bill and provide strategic guidance along the way.  We want thank Governor Raimondo; the bill sponsors – Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and Rep. Jan Malik; and, most importantly, Sara for her dedication, persistence and tireless efforts! 

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Callie Ponder, Rhode Island

Callie Ponder began working with the American Heart Association at the end of May 2016. Her role with the organization is an Associate Regional Campaign Manager for the Pawtucket/Central Falls ANCHOR (Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships) grant, funded by the CDC and aimed at reducing obesity. She will be with us until the end of September.

Callie recently graduated with a BS from Rhode Island College in Community Health and Wellness, with a concentration in Public Health. Previously, she received a BS in Exercise Science from the University of RI and a specialization in Health Care Administration from Rhode Island College. Callie’s most recent work experience was at the RI Department of Health under the Community, Health, and Equity Division as a family planning intern. She also assisted with our Providence ANCHOR grant (year 1 of the project) by assessing the foods and beverages sold at a hospital and several worksites. Her work at Care New England Health System laid the foundation for the implementation of a system-wide policy requiring the vending machine supplier to adhere to American Heart Association nutrition guidelines.

Callie and her husband of two years are sponsored racquetball players who travel to tournaments within the New England area and occasionally around the country. She enjoys reading, watching movies and television shows, and spending time with family and friends. One of her favorite things to do is to sit on the rocks near the ocean at Beavertail Park in Jamestown, RI to watch the sunset with her husband.

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Rhode Island Advocates Celebrate Successful Legislative Session

The 2016 RI Legislative Session wrapped up on June 18th. Lawmakers passed hundreds of bills in the frenzied final days of session. Thanks to the passion, commitment and advocacy of our You’re the Cure advocates, we are celebrating a very successful year at the State House!

Below is a quick recap of the session:

  • School Nutrition Bill Approved – Our bill that would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards to ensure that we meet – and continue to exceed – new federal guidelines for snacks and beverages sold in schools was approved by the House and Senate and is heading to Governor Raimondo’s desk.
  • Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum Approved – The Governor’s proposed Green Economy/Biking/Recreation Bond Referendum was included in the budget approved by the House and Senate. The bond referendum will now go on the November Ballot. If approved by voters, it will provide millions of dollars for bikeway development, recreation and parks. 
  • 25-Cent Cigarette Tax Increase Defeated – The Governor’s proposed 25-cent cigarette tax increase was NOT included in the final budget.  The AHA and our partners strongly opposed the 25-cent increase because it was too small to have a public health impact and no money was dedicated to prevention and cessation programs (which remain woefully underfunded). 
  • AEDs in Schools Bill Approved – The House and Senate approved a bill that will require AEDs in all public and private middle and high schools in the state.  AEDs will also be required at school-sponsored athletic events and someone trained in the use of the AED must also be present.  This bill was championed by one of our amazing volunteers who has a son with a congenital heart defect – it truly highlights how a passionate advocate can inspire change! The AHA was happy to support this important bill and provide strategic guidance along the way. This bill also heads to the Governor’s desk.
  • CPR in Schools Funding Progress – We are still working to secure funding to purchase new CPR equipment for all high schools in the state to help implement the CPR in Schools Law. We have made progress over the past couple of months and are working with Governor Raimondo’s staff to identify potential funding sources.
  • Healthy School Advertising Bill Stalled – Our bill that would ensure only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property stalled in the final days of session. The measure had passed the Senate, but didn’t make it through the House. We worked really hard on this proposal and this is by far the biggest disappointment of the session. We will plan to meet with the House Leadership prior to the 2017 session to identify and address concerns. 

Questions? Contact Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations at (401) 228-2331 or megan.tucker@heart.org.

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American Heart Association Highlights Partnership with Providence Public School District

We are very excited to share a new report entitled “Providence Teachers Learn How to Get Kids Moving” that highlights our recent work with the Providence Public School District (PPSD).  This work was part of the American Heart Association’s Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships (ANCHOR) grant, funded by the CDC and aimed at reducing obesity.  We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Jennifer Quigley-Harris, the PPSD Wellness Coordinator, who was a wonderful partner and collaborator.  This campaign would not have been possible without her dedication and support.

Click the following link to view the report: (Please visit the site to view this file)

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American Heart Association Announces 2016 Get Healthy! Poster Contest Award Recipients

The American Heart Association and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island hosted the 2016 Get Healthy! Poster Contest Award Ceremony at the Rhode Island State House on May 25th in conjunction with our Youth Advocacy Day.  The award ceremony recognized six outstanding students in grades K-5.  Winning students demonstrated how physical activity and healthy eating helps build healthy hearts, healthy families and healthy communities. More than 700 posters from all over Rhode Island were submitted for consideration this year.

Congratulations to our award recipients!

Grades K-2:

1st place – Tatum Brennan – Hathaway School, Portsmouth

2nd place – Zoe Hall – Wawaloam School, Exeter

3rd place – Ryan Capraro – Winsor Hill School, Johnston

Grades 3-5:

1st place –Makayla Scuncio – Winsor Hill School, Johnston

2nd place – Aidan Chen – Melville Elementary, Portsmouth

3rd place – Trinity Young – Homeschooled, Newport

The American Heart Association is committed to helping kids and families live heart healthy lives!  As we educate and lobby lawmakers to support policies that promote access to healthy foods and safe places to play and be active in Rhode Island, we wanted to take the extra step to get students involved.

Many thanks to our generous sponsor Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island!

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Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed Honored by American Heart Association

The American Heart Association recognized Rhode Island Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed (District 13 – Newport, Jamestown) for her commitment to fighting heart disease and stroke at an award ceremony at the State House on May 25th.

President Paiva Weed was presented with the 2016 Tracey A. Kennedy Leadership in Advocacy Award, a “lifetime achievement” award given in recognition of outstanding leadership and tireless efforts to advance the mission of the American Heart Association – building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Paiva Weed, who has served as President of the Senate since 2009, was selected for her leadership and commitment to children’s health in Rhode Island.  President Paiva Weed has been a champion for RIte Care and a longtime proponent of quality healthcare for children and families in the Ocean State. She has helped pave the way for strong school nutrition standards and a healthy school environment for Rhode Island children.  Paiva Weed has protected kids from the dangers of tobacco and emerging products like electronic cigarettes. And, she supported efforts to ensure that all high school students will be trained in the lifesaving skill of CPR before they graduate.

 “The American Heart Association is very appreciative of Senate President Paiva Weed’s efforts and partnership.  The issues highlighted above are a mere snapshot of the work that has been accomplished under her leadership.  We are thrilled to recognize President Paiva Weed’s lifetime achievement as a champion for children’s health and we congratulate her on receiving this very well-deserved award,” noted Tracey Kennedy.

“We thank Senate President Paiva Weed for her incredible leadership and commitment to Rhode Island’s children.  We are very lucky to have her at the State House.  We look forward to continuing our work together as we strive to build a healthier generation and a healthier Rhode Island,” said Megan Tucker, Director of Government Relations at the American Heart Association.

The Tracey A. Kennedy Leadership in Advocacy Award was established in 2010 and is named for one of the American Heart Association’s most passionate advocates.  Tracey Kennedy of Wakefield is a stroke survivor and her commitment to advancing the American Heart Association’s mission through meaningful policy change at the state and federal levels is unparalleled.  She has displayed tremendous leadership over the years as past Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Board of Directors and as an Advocacy Ambassador.  Kennedy currently serves as Immediate Past Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Advocacy Committee.  She was also the recipient of the 2008 Volunteer Advocate of the Year Award, a prestigious national honor.

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Jennifer Quigley Harris, Rhode Island

GUEST BLOG: Active Kids Learn Better

By Jennifer Quigley Harris, Providence Public School District’s Wellness Coordinator

I was waiting at a traffic light when a group of middle school students stepped into the crosswalk in front of me. It was the end of the school day and the kids were a disheveled, loping pack, laughing loudly, nudging one another and shouting to friends as they made their way out of the school building.  Backpacks hung loosely off shoulders, jackets were unzipped, there were some untied shoelaces.

Jennifer Quigley Harris headshotAs the students reached the other side of the street, several of them broke into an ecstatic run, starting some kind of social tag and chase game with one another. There was an unmistakable jubilant energy surrounding these kids and I felt a strange sense of satisfaction as I watched them speed off down the sidewalk.  It’s as if I had been holding my breath while watching them cross the street and their mad dash caused me to relax.  As I drove away, I realized that just seeing them run and have fun soothed me.

I had spent most of that day inside those students’ school building, talking to administrators and staff about various ways to enhance, support and educate about health and wellness. As Wellness Coordinator in our state’s largest urban school district, I spend a great deal of my time thinking about how school food and school physical activity connects to and has an impact on academic performance, classroom behavior and concentration.  Every day in my professional capacity, I cite the latest research, share national best practices and try to provide the best resources I can for schools in their effort to promote overall good health as part of the school day.

Watching those students come out of school and run reminded me that perhaps what I should be talking about in schools every day is the simple idea that students often want to move more during their days. The traditional structure of our school day sometimes doesn’t take into account the growing body’s need to stretch, to walk, to breathe deeply, to take off in a run.  That learning to exercise and understand the way your body operates is as much a life skill as learning to read and learning to subtract.  In a world increasingly dominated by sedentary screen time, frequent rides in motor vehicles and cheap access to unhealthy foods, remembering how those middle schoolers had a natural instinct to run after a seven hour school day should really inform everything I do.

The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and dozens of other national and local public health and organizations (including the American Heart Association) recommend that children and adolescents are physically active for at least 60 minutes every day. To help students meet and exceed those recommended minutes, the Providence Public School District (PPSD) partnered with the American Heart Association’s ANCHOR grant to train physical education teachers how to implement CSPAP – or a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program – in their schools.  Implementing a CSPAP is important because it not only looks at the amount of time students are physically active during the school day, but it also looks for opportunities to get students moving through staff involvement, before and after school programs and in family and community settings. So far, seventeen PPSD schools have been trained to implement CSPAP, and this number continues to grow.

In Providence, schools are encouraging additional physical activity minutes through a variety of CSPAP techniques including enhanced recess programming, improved recess spaces, incorporation of classroom activity breaks into K-12 class time, programs and competitions to track steps and calculate miles using pedometers, expanded participation in team sports at the intramural, community and interscholastic levels and broadened delivery of classes to students and staff across a wide variety of fitness and movement skills so that individuals learn to incorporate and embrace physical activity and movement into their schedules for life.

I am grateful for the opportunity I get every day to support the teachers and administrators in the Providence school district who are working to establish CSPAP in their buildings. Although more schools in the district need to join this effort, the programs, initiatives and assessments I have seen so far towards PPSD CSPAP give me hope that more students in Providence will be getting more of those recommended physical activity minutes added to their day. . Although more schools in the district need to join this effort, the programs, initiatives and assessments I have seen so far toward CSPAP give me hope that more students in Providence will be getting the recommended physical activity minutes added to their day. I am excited that schools are encouraging their staff to model and promote physical activity in front of students.  I am hopeful that outreach efforts towards families and community partners about increasing daily activity minutes will help to convey the importance of movement and exercise in daily American lives.

Increasing physical activity among youth is no longer just about battling the obesity epidemic in our country. It is also about developing lifelong heart health, strengthening growing bones, preventing costly and debilitating disease and empowering kids to gain control of their ever-changing bodies and use movement and activity to decrease stress, overcome fear, boost energy and have fun.  If any of those things also help them do well and enjoy time in school, that’s good news too.

For more information on efforts to build a healthier community in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls, contact Candace.Pierce@heart.org.

The American Heart Association’s ANCHOR Partnerships Program is funded under the CDC’s National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention initiative. The American Heart Association is working to increase access to physical activity opportunities in schools.

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Rhode Island Lobby Day a Success

You’re the Cure advocates from across the Ocean State descended on the RI State House on May 4th for the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day. Their message to lawmakers: cast a vote for children’s health!    

Advocates spoke with legislators about two important proposals:        

  • The first bill would update Rhode Island’s school nutrition standards to ensure that Rhode Island meets – and continues to exceed – new federal guidelines for snacks and beverages sold in schools. 
  • The second bill would ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property. 

Both bills have been approved by the Senate and await a vote in the House.  For more information click here: (Please visit the site to view this file)

Many thanks to our amazing Lobby Day Team: Dr. Steven Fera, John Potvin, Laurie Stephenson, Miriam Plitt, Nancy Blasdell, Lisa Deck, Kathy Harrington, Dina Mihos, Karin Wetherill, Kelly Swanson, Michelle Karn, Amanda Komorek, Christa Danilowicz, Andrea Larocque, Bill Thompsen and David Day.

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