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Where in NC is PE?

When my granddaughter started elementary school, she had physical education (PE) class twice per week. At that time, we were disappointed that it wasn't every day. By the time she was in fifth grade, PE was only offered about twice per month. In her words, "How is that enough? I thought we needed PE every day!"

We can do better and now is our chance!

Tell our Public School Leaders to include PE in the state's education accountability plan. 

The federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in 2015 and now every state has to create an accountability plan. ESSA emphasizes a well-rounded education, prioritizing physical and mental health. We need to tell state education leaders PE should be included in NC's plan.

All students should have the opportunity to participate in PE - it not only helps their physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well. Just like my granddaughter, many students in NC do not get the physical education they need. With an ever-growing number of priorities competing for time during the school day, too many of our children have lost what was once a given: access to quality PE.

Will you help me save PE? Take action today!

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CT Needs State-Wide Hospital Stroke Designation Program

In Connecticut, stroke has been one of the top 5 leading causes of death and the leading cause of disability. An abundance of medical literature demonstrates that stroke patients receive better care, have better outcomes, and have less treatment related complications at centers equipped to treat stroke within the context of a system of care.  A stroke designation system improves the care delivered to all persons with stroke, and is inclusive for all hospitals.

Stroke certified hospitals are required to comply with a number of standards related to access and availability of appropriate leadership and stroke expertise, written treatment and transfer guidelines and the ability to provide necessary diagnostic testing and interpretation. Stroke certification is essential because it assures the public and the EMS community that a hospital has the procedures and guidelines in place to ensure persons experiencing stroke systems will be rapidly accessed and given the most definitive treatment, or triage, as rapidly as possible.

The state legislature appointed a stroke task force, and one of its recommendations in its February, 2016 final report was to re-establish and maintain a state-wide, hospital stroke designation program. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming 2017 state legislative session that will accomplish this. Although the session does not begin until January, we are already at work forming a coalition of like-minded organizations and beginning to educate both advocates such as yourself and legislators. As this issue continues to develop we will keep you updated.

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We want to hear from you, Arkansas!

Our volunteers are our eyes and ears in the community. Help the AHA by identifying your friends, coworkers, neighbors, family members, or community members who may have a story to share related to heart disease or stroke.

It’s important for our legislators to hear stories from or about real Arkansans who would benefit from local smoke-free ordinances, increased access to healthy food, and other policies that can make a positive impact in their lives and communities.

Please consider if you or anyone you know can help with the following:

Comprehensive Smoke-Free Workplaces

Second-hand smoke is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The U.S. Surgeon General’s report states that there is NO risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and any exposure has an immediate and adverse effect on the cardiovascular system. The good news is that secondhand smoke is a preventable risk factor. While many businesses are already smoke-free, too many bars and restaurants are not. All workers deserve the right to breathe smoke-free air, not just some of them. No worker should have to choose between their health and earning a paycheck.

Healthy Vending 
Arkansas currently has the highest adult obesity rate in the nation- 35.9%. We rank fifth in the nation for cases of diabetes, and seventh in the nation for hypertension. These illnesses and other obesity related diseases cost our state $1.25 billion annually, of which nearly 40% is financed by Medicaid and Medicare. Obesity is not only killing our state; it’s bankrupting us too.

To help us combat this problem, we are supporting the Arkansas Freedom for Healthy Choices Initiative. This effort will bring together local leaders to implement minor policy changes to help address our state’s obesity epidemic. This policy area focuses on ensuring there are healthy food items in vending machines located on public property. With this policy, public employees and visitors to government facilities will have access healthier food choices.

Improving emergency care for heart attack and stroke patients
When a heart attack or stroke occurs, everyone should receive the best care possible – from the time they dial 911 until after they are discharged from the hospital. In Arkansas we need to equip more first response vehicles to diagnose and treat heart/stroke patients, and improve consistency in care by gathering heart/stroke data that can highlight successes and pinpoint areas of need in our state. We support efforts at the legislative level to address these key opportunities for improvement.

We look forward to hearing from you!  Please contact Allison Hogue at Allison.Hogue@heart.org or 501-707-6593.

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Tatum Weishaupt, New York State

My name is Tatum Weishaupt and I joined the AHA in April 2016 as the Mission Lifeline Director of the Capital Region of New York State.  Before I tell you about myself, let me share a little bit about Mission Lifeline.  The American Heart Association developed Mission: Lifeline to transform heart attack patient outcomes by connecting healthcare providers, prehospital providers and community stakeholders in a proactive system of care that saves and improves lives—from symptom onset through cardiac rehabilitation.  I am excited to be applying my skills and expertise to this lifesaving effort in Upstate New York.

Throughout my education and career, I have focused on medicine and healthcare systems. I attended Union College, graduating with a major in Neuroscience and Minor in Public Health, and continued to pursue my interest in the sciences earning a Masters Degree in Neuroscience from Georgetown University and George Mason University.

My career prior to joining the AHA included varying aspects clinical trials management at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where I worked in various roles over a 6 year period. While I enjoyed oncology research, my transition to systems of care quality improvement at the American Heart Association has allowed me to combine my broad interesting in healthcare. As a Mission: Lifeline Director for the Capital Region, I work with local health care providers – including EMS agencies and hospitals – to ensure that the system of care for heart attacks can work in a coordinated way.

The systems of care work lead by the AHA is truly impactful in the community, and I am thrilled to join in these efforts. On May 16, 2016 I had the opportunity to join the AHA advocacy team at a Stroke Lobby Day, and learn about another aspect of our organization. The day spent at the New York State Capitol included meetings with Senators and Assembly members discussing a bill which would provide a three tiered stroke system of care. The goal is to ensure that all stroke victims receive the appropriate level of care, as rapidly as possible. This was truly an awe inspiring day, and lead to the bill passing the Senate 60-0 on June 9th!

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MA Legislature Ends Session with Some Success

The Massachusetts Legislature finished their formal session at midnight on July 31st before taking a break. We were happy that $6 million was allocated for the MA Food Trust Program, providing necessary funding for our healthy food financing initiatives in the Economic Development Bond Bill. We will  be working with the Governor to make sure that he quickly appropriates the money so that much needed funding is accessible throughout the Commonwealth.

We did not see success on a few of our key issues and will have to start again in the new session in January, raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 and creating  stroke system of care. We believe that thanks to a lot of momentum and hard work by our advocates we feel like they are in a good place to start the new year.

We still have a few things that we are hopeful will get across the finish line, requiring AEDs in Schools, Healthy Vending options and Quality Physical Education data collection. We look forward to continuing to work on these critical issues.

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Information: The Most Valuable Player

Fall is the perfect time of year to learn more about your elected officials.  November 8, election day will help shape the course for our communities, state and nation for the next several years.  We encourage everyone to vote. 

We are often asked about learning more about elected officials and candidates. 

Some of our tips are:

· Google Search – take 10 minutes and simply "google" your elected official or candidate. 

· For current state lawmakers visit the NC General Assembly website. There you can learn what committees your lawmaker serves on, bills they have sponsored and how they have voted.

· For current local officials, you can normally find information on your local government webpage.

· Today most all candidates and lawmakers have their own webpages that tell about them.

· The State Board of Elections website also has information on candidates. 

You may also consider attending local candidate forums.  Normally you can find this information advertised in local papers, local access news stations and by hosting organizations. 

Getting to know the candidates and your elected officials is an important step to being a skillful and effective advocate.  That knowledge helps you gain greater understanding and will result in improving your ability to build a stronger relationship with them.  We challenge you to take ten – take ten minutes and "google" a candidate – see what you can learn.    

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Founders Affiliate Convenes Staff Stroke Workgroup

Challenging ourselves to elevate the vital topic of stroke throughout the Founders Affiliate, a staff stroke workgroup was convened in May 2016.  Comprised of AHA/ASA staff leaders from communications, advocacy, quality improvement and development group is focused on executing on the 2020 goal of reducing the burden of  heart disease and stroke by 20% while improving the health of all Americans by 20%.  The workgroup quickly identified regional success and challenges around stroke with the short term goal of sharing existing resources, developing solutions and empowering all staff to increase their working knowledge of stroke prevention, treatment and survivorship issues.  A top priority for the group is identifying appropriate volunteer opportunities for stroke survivors.   

Look for a staff roll-out of improved stroke resources in mid-September 2016. 

 

 

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Join our journey to 200 FAST Act cosponsors

There is nothing like a summer road trip. A chance to explore new places and experience adventures along the way. Right now, we are beginning our own summer journey: achieving 200 cosponsors for the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine (FAST) Act and we need you to come along for the ride.

Join the journey to 200 cosponsors by tweeting your House member to cosponsor the FAST Act!

Since we began this campaign last fall, we’ve achieved 145 U.S. House co-sponsors… almost 100 since March alone! But we need to keep up the pressure if we want to reach our goal of 200.

Telestroke can help ensure that more stroke patients receive clot-busting therapy and that they receive it more quickly, greatly improving the chances of a full recovery. But this vital technology is not available to everyone, which is why the FAST Act is vital for Americans across the country.

We need as much support as possible if we want to get this bill to the President's desk.

Will you tweet your member of Congress today?

Thank you for everything you do and enjoy the journey!

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Stroke Strikes Close to Home

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

Each of us who supports the AHA|ASA has our own unique path that brings us here. As the preeminent health organization that leads the fight against America’s #1 and #5 causes of death (heart disease and stroke) it is difficult to find anyone who hasn’t been significantly impacted by the death or disability of a loved one who has been impacted by these terrible diseases.

Here at the AHA|ASA we recently went through a little rebranding through our “Life is Why” campaign. This beautiful campaign (click here to watch a short video) draws in each of us to reflect upon the reason(s) why we engage in our life-saving mission and work. For some, it is Life, for others it could be a specific family member, friend, or loved one. Whatever the reason(s) for us being here, each of us came with a desire and the motivation to make a difference; to change the statistics; to make a significant impact in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

A few months ago I had a chance to share with you a story of how our work to get CPR taught in every high school is already making an impact and saving lives. Moments like these have led me to develop my own personal mantra of “Saving lives is Why”. And while saving lives continues to be a personal motivation, the experiences of the past few weeks have drawn my attention a little bit closer to home.

My wife’s grandmother recently passed away from a hemorrhagic stroke. By all accounts, she was young and healthy. She will also be terribly missed. Our family was heartbroken as someone so close to us passed away much too soon. Her passing has caused all of us to reflect not only on the memories we will cherish of her, but also those moments that we might have let pass us by – those memories that could have been made but other things in life may have gotten in the way. It is in these moments when I have experienced a paradigm shift – or a change in the way I think about things. Losses such as these have a way of helping you understand that there truly is a price on time, on moments, and on memories. And that price is paid in the moments of lament afterward asking the grand question “What if …?”  

And so, as I reflect on the recent passing of our grandmother I find that my motivations, my “why”, is beginning to change – and that this change reinvigorates me to continue on in the work we do. For me, family – and the memories I want to make with them – are why I continue on in my fight to help me – and others – to lead healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Continue on with us in our journey and our life-saving Mission. For with you, together, we can and will be the cure.

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Participate in your local August Recess!

We are looking for volunteers to take a meeting with their member of Congress while they are in town this August.

Important federal advocacy goals for Congress this year include:

  • CR (Cardiac Rehab) – changing a key Medicare provision so that those who have survived a coronary event can have easier access to rehabilitation programs
  • FA (FAST Act) – helping connect more stroke patients to life-saving telemedicine services
  • CNR (Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization) – protecting strong school nutrition standards
  • NIH (National Institutes of Health) – increasing federal research funding

 This is an important opportunity for us to get heart and stroke issues in front of our federal elected officials. If you can help us out, please contact Jess Nolan (jess.nolan@heart.org or 952-278-7928) as soon as possible.

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