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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 highlighting our award winners below!

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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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Rhode Island Senate to Vote on School Marketing Bill

Great news!  On March 25, the Senate Education Committee voted to recommend passage of our bill that would prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertising in Rhode Island schools.  A vote before the full Senate is expected soon.

National, state, and local efforts have greatly improved the nutritional quality of foods served in our schools, but some schools still allow the advertising of foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. You might assume that since it can’t be served in school it can’t be advertised there, but companies have found the loophole and we need to close it. Schools should be a safe and nurturing environment – we need to make sure our kids don’t get bombarded by ads trying to make them lifelong customers of fast food or soda companies.

We’re almost there Rhode Island!  According to a recent report, more than 80% of Rhode Island middle schools and high schools already prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses and in school publications.  Let’s get to 100% and ensure a healthy school environment for all Rhode Island students. 

Be on the lookout for more action alerts on this important issue as it moves through the legislative process!

 

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Rhode Island House Committee Considers Funding CPR in Schools

On March 18, Dr. Brian Silver, President of the American Heart Association’s Rhode Island Board of Directors, asked the House Finance Committee to include funding in the FY 2016 Budget to purchase new CPR manikins for all public high schools in the Ocean State.  Dr. Silver noted in his testimony that the relatively small amount of funding requested could go a long way toward helping schools implement the 2013 CPR in Schools Law.      

The CPR in Schools Law requires high school students to receive hands-on CPR training and an overview of automated external defibrillator (AED) use prior to graduation as part of the health education curriculum.  While there are many ways this can be accomplished, providing purpose-built CPR manikins will help ensure quality training for all students.     

Right now, approximately 90 percent of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest do not survive – most die because they do not receive bystander CPR.  The death rate is staggering and tragic.  With your help, we are going to change that in Rhode Island by creating a generation of lifesavers and heroes.  CPR is one of life’s critical lessons – let’s make sure our students are as prepared as possible to save a life.  

Click the following link to ask our state leaders to include funding in the FY 2016 Budget for CPR in Schools: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36483 

Many thanks to Dr. Silver for testifying on this important issue!

 

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Teen Zombies, Rhode Island

More than 200 teens from across Rhode Island marched on the State House as part of the 2015 Zombie Walk for Kick Butts Day on March 18th. They carried the message that tobacco and nicotine use is not for them - and Big Tobacco can't sway their choice to choose health!  A smaller group of teens met directly with legislators in a youth-legislator roundtable discussion at the State House, hosted by Rep. Art Handy. They shared their message about teen tobacco use and legislators shared with them how important their voice is in the fight for a tobacco free Rhode Island.

Many thanks to Karina Wood, Director of Tobacco Free Rhode Island, for organizing this great event – and to all the local substance abuse prevention task forces and coalitions that took part and arranged for high school students from their communities to participate.  But most of all – thanks to the teen zombies for taking a stand against Big Tobacco! 

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Sara Bonneau, Rhode Island

We recently had the pleasure of meeting Sara Bonneau, an amazing mom who is working with her legislators to make sure that all Rhode Island high schools and middle schools have functioning AEDs – and that an AED is present on athletic fields during school sporting events.  On February 25, Sara testified at the State House for the first time sharing her personal story with the House Heath, Education and Welfare Committee.  Here’s what she said.

Sara’s testimony:

My name is Sara Bonneau, I am from Barrington, RI.  I have been married to a born and raised Rhode Islander for 17 years and I am the mother of three boys, Nick 14, Ryan 12 and Sean 9.  I have lived in Rhode Island for 12 years.  In 2002 when our son Ryan had the first of 2 open heart surgeries I had to literally hand him over to a team of surgeons who would save his life.  In 2011 I had to do it again for his second lifesaving open heart surgery.  Ryan is now a healthy (knock on wood) 12 year old that plays basketball for Barrington Middle School and hopefully God willing will compete at the high school level. 

This December, for the first time since 2011 I had to “hand” Ryan over again.  This time not to surgeons, but to various communities in Rhode Island that he and his team competed against who were not equipped with an AED or Automated External Defibrillator.  As a current teacher in Massachusetts I was shocked!  I thought every school was required to have a functioning AED.  After reaching out to State Representative Jan Malik, I learned that sadly, this was not a requirement in Rhode Island.  They are only required in health clubs and nursing homes. 

Sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of death in athletes.  This past December, a 15 year old Rhode Island boy died from sudden cardiac arrest at a basketball practice at Rogers High School in Newport.  The tragic sudden cardiac death of Lincoln’s 15 year old Michael Monteleone in 2005 inspired his family to create the Michael Monteleone Memorial Fund which has raised over $350,000 and since his death has donated 159 AEDs to over 56 high schools and 40 middle schools in Rhode Island.  Tragically many of these devices are sitting unused in various storage and equipment closets and are not maintained or working properly. 

If we can save one child who will not die from an undiagnosed heart condition and sudden cardiac death in Rhode Island I believe it is worth it.  I know many Rhode Islanders who agree.  I plead to you today to make it a law and keep our children safe.

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House Committee Holds Hearing on Rhode Island School Marketing Bill

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) recently heard testimony on legislation that would eliminate unhealthy food and beverage marketing in Rhode Island schools.  The bill, introduced by HEW Committee Chairman Joe McNamara, is one of our top priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session. 

Many thanks to RI Advocacy Committee Chairman Dr. Steven Fera and RI Advocacy Committee member Laurie Stephenson for testifying at the hearing!  We are happy to report that there was no vocal opposition to the bill and committee members seemed generally supportive.  The next step – we are urging the committee to recommend passage of this important measure and move it to the House floor for a vote!  A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Susan Sosnowski – we are also awaiting a hearing before the Senate Education Committee.

Background:

While national, state, and local efforts have improved the nutritional quality of foods provided and sold in schools, some schools still permit the marketing of foods high in calories, fat, and sugar and of minimal nutritional value. That marketing includes sales, free samples, and advertising of unhealthy foods; corporate-sponsored fundraising programs which encourage students and their families to sell, purchase, and consume foods and beverages with little nutritional value; incentive programs, which reward children with free or discounted foods or beverages when they reach certain academic goals; sponsorship of school programs or events; and branded educational materials.

Permitting the advertising of foods and beverages at schools that may not be sold there interferes with school messages promoting good health and academic success. If children are taught through school health and nutrition curriculum to limit their intake of these foods and at the same time the foods are promoted by school-based advertising and marketing, the lessons of school health and nutrition curricula are undermined. The marketing also undermines parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet.

The good news – according to a recent report, most Rhode Island middle schools and high schools already prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements in school buildings (89%), on school grounds (88%), on school buses (84%), and in school publications (83%).  Let’s get to 100% Rhode Island!

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Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo Speaks at Go Red for Women Luncheon

The American Heart Association was thrilled that Governor Gina Raimondo could join us for the recent Go Red for Women Luncheon at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Nearly 600 women and men dressed in red to help raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women.  Governor Raimondo’s remarks were the perfect kick-off for the event – and she even took some extra time to pose for photos with some of our young guests!

Click the following link to view Governor Raimondo's remarks: http://youtu.be/QyZBMef9E54

Below, Advocate and American Heart Association National Go Red For Women Spokeswoman, Lisa Deck and daughter Kaitlyn, had the pleasure of meeting Governor Raimondo during the luncheon program. Lisa and Kaitlyn presented her with flowers to thank her for her attendance and for speaking about the importance of heart-healthy lifestyle and funding lifesaving research.

 Governor Raimondo with 11 year old Megan Dickerman, congenital heart disease survivor. Megan was featured during the speaking program with her father, Daniel who was also born with the very same heart defect.

Governor Raimondo with 10 year old Gustavo Londono. Gustavo’s Nana, Debra Koziol is one of the American Heart Association’s National Go Red For Women Spokeswoman after suffering sudden cardiac arrest in her home about 7 years ago. Gustavo was there that night and recalls how quickly his Papa called 911 and performed CPR to save her life. Gustavo shared with the audience his inspirational message to live a healthier life and to keep your heart strong.

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Help Eliminate Unhealthy Food and Beverage Advertising in Rhode Island Schools

One of the American Heart Association’s top priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session will be eliminating unhealthy food and beverage advertising/marketing in schools.  The good news – according to a recent report, most Rhode Island middle schools and high schools already prohibit unhealthy food and beverage advertisements in school buildings (89%), on school grounds (88%), on school buses (84%), and in school publications (83%).  Let’s get to 100% Rhode Island!

While national, state, and local efforts have improved the nutritional quality of foods provided and sold in schools, some schools still permit the marketing of foods high in calories, fat, and sugar and of minimal nutritional value. That marketing includes sales, free samples, and advertising of unhealthy foods; corporate-sponsored fundraising programs which encourage students and their families to sell, purchase, and consume foods and beverages with little nutritional value; incentive programs, which reward children with free or discounted foods or beverages when they reach certain academic goals; sponsorship of school programs or events; and branded educational materials.

Permitting the advertising of foods and beverages at schools that may not be sold there interferes with school messages promoting good health and academic success. If children are taught through school health and nutrition curriculum to limit their intake of these foods and at the same time the foods are promoted by school-based advertising and marketing, the lessons of school health and nutrition curricula are undermined. The marketing also undermines parents’ efforts to feed their children a healthy diet.

Urge your representative to cosponsor legislation that would eliminate unhealthy food and beverage marketing in RI schools!  

Click the following link to take action today:  https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36110

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