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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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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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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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Catherine Zalewski, New Jersey

Catherine Zalewski is a mother of 2, a certified personal trainer, a former Mrs. New Jersey and a stroke survivor. She suffered her first stroke at the age of 28, about 6 months after giving birth to her daughter. It was discovered that she had a hole in heart which was repaired through surgery. She suffered another stroke shortly after the birth of her second child.

When Catherine had her first stroke, she was home alone with her infant and didn't know what was happening. She didn't receive treatment until 7 hours later. It took weeks for her to relearn how to do everyday tasks like walking and taking care of her baby. During the second stroke, she was at work with a client and someone realized what was happening. They called 911 immediately and she was taken to the hospital. She received tPA within an hour and it made a world of difference. This time, she went home within a week and was able to go back to her normal routine quickly.

Catherine knows firsthand how important it is for stroke patients to receive quality care in a timely fashion. That is why she is a volunteer advocate for the American Heart Association| American Stroke Association. Recently, Catherine testified before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on legislation that will improve the stroke system of care in New Jersey. She looks forward to continuing her advocacy as the bill makes it's way through the Legislature.

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Advocacy Victories in the Commonwealth

We are excited that with the end of our fiscal year that we have a lot of advocacy wins to celebrate. This was a true team effort that could not be achieved without your support of our work, taking action on alerts, being part of lobby day, and you, our dedicated volunteers being tireless advocates throughout the year. 

  • We were successful in leading a campaign to secure a $500,000 appropriation for Stroke Education and awareness; including a specific earmark of $200,000 to support the state Stroke registry.  The $200,000 earmark met the Goal Guidance criteria for Stroke Registry funding.  Not only were we successful in having the appropriation included in the legislature’s budget but we also successfully led a veto override campaign. This happened in July 2015. Just yesterday we were able to secure an additional $620,00 for stroke funding in the final budget that is on its way to the Governor’s desk so we are excited that the momentum of the original funding continues!
     
  • In the early winter Boston joined almost 90 cities and towns across Massachusetts to set the minimum age at 21 and with Boston joining the movement more than ½ of the population live in cities and towns where 21 is the minimum age.  In May we were able to add to the local 21 push when the cities and Towns of Brockton, Carver, Chelsea, Essex , Falmouth, Gloucester, Hadley, Halifax, Marblehead, Norfolk, North Adams, North Attleboro, Plainville, Shelburne, Southampton, Sunderland and Tewksbury cumulatively representing 324,199 residents were confirmed to have passed T-21 policy. In June the Cities/Towns of Great Barrington, Lowell, Stoughton and Worcester passed T-21 legislation adding an additional 317,365 Massachusetts residents living in communities that now have a minimum legal age of 21 to purchase Tobacco products.  These additions mean that 121 of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth have T-21 laws. We are confident that this momentum will help us pass the Statewide Tobacco 21 bill by July 31st!
     
  • For a number of years we have been working on Complete Streets to secure necessary funding and policy language so that we can create healthier communities for all of our residents. I am excited to say that the Massachusetts state Transportation Improvement plan will be dedicating a total of $110 million dollars over the next 5 years to programs and projects to improve access to safe bicycle and pedestrian programs that will help people who walk, bike, run and roll do so more safely.  This campaign involved not only working to appropriate the funds but also to influence the Capital Improvement Plan to ensure that all modes of transportation are considered in road improvement design.
     
  • Lastly we were able to secure a win for our local CPR in Schools efforts. Unlike most other states, nearly all curriculum decisions are decided at the local level which means that we have to work with local school Superintendents and School Committees to implement CPR Graduation requirements in school districts across the State.  This particular win reflects the passage of policies in the Worcester, Springfield and the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional school districts.  These three school districts represent an additional 3,169 High School Graduating Seniors who will learn the fundamentals of CPR before they graduate.  In all, we have worked with 2 additional districts that require some form of CPR training before students graduate with an overall total of 5,317 students trained each year.  We have also identified an additional 26 school districts with over 12,000 annual graduates to focus on in FY 16-17. This is a particularly satisfying win because it took a true team effort to get this down, and without our volunteer’s dedication and outreach we would not be making the progress that we are!

 Lastly as some of you know our legislative session is not over yet, we have until July 31st at midnight to get a few more policies passed. We are working towards:

  1. Statewide Tobacco 21
  2. Healthy Vending in State Buildings
  3. $6 million for Healthy Food Financing
  4. A Comprehensive Stroke System of Care
  5. Quality Physical Education
  6. AEDs in all Public Schools

 

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You're the Cure and You're Making it Happen!

Thank you to all our Great Rivers Affiliate You’re the Cure advocates! Because of you, we’re making Delaware, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia healthier places to live. It’s been a very busy few months in our state capitols and we wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of the policy wins YOU have helped make possible.

In March, Kentucky became the 29th state to pass legislation that will ensure all students learn lifesaving CPR before graduation. In June, neighbor Ohio became No. 33. Across the country, 34 states (including DE and WV) have now passed this lifesaving legislation, resulting in over 2 million students being taught every year. Pennsylvania is working bills in both the House and Senate and we're looking forward to celebrating another CPR success soon.

On June 16th, Philadelphia became the largest, and only the second, US city to pass a sugary drink tax. In addition to helping fight diabetes and obesity, the 1.5 cents per ounce tax will generate revenue to help fund citywide pre-K and improve parks and community centers. Read more about this historic win for Philadelphia's kids.

Our dedicated West Virginia advocates rallied over and over again during the 2016 Legislative Session to help beat back several attempts to weaken local smoke-free regulations.  In addition, the WV legislature passed a 65-cent increase in the state’s cigarette tax to help raise needed revenue to address the state’s budget shortfall.

WV passed Stroke Systems of Care legislation in March, helping ensure stroke victims get the fast care they need for the best chance of recovery.  Delaware will hopefully soon join them in improving stroke care in the First State. Senate Bill 265 passed the legislature in late June and is awaiting the Governor's signature. Kentucky passed similar legislation in 2015 and Ohio and Pennsylvania are also working on bills that will improve stroke care.

Again, thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside our amazing advocates to create heart-healthier communities.

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We Met At The Capitol

It has been a busy spring in the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate!  Across the affiliate we have been hosting Lobby Days to bring advocates together to meet with their lawmakers, so join us to learn what your neighbors have been busily working on this session.

South Carolina’s inaugural Lobby Day in March was an overwhelming success!  Advocates spent the day in key meetings with lawmakers, asking for bilateral support around H 3265 - CPR in Schools as well as funding for a position to oversee the state stroke registry.  We are pleased to share that Governor Nikki Haley signed H 3265 into law on April 21, 2016 H 3265.  SC advocates can thank their lawmakers by joining us here!

North Carolina hosted You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day in May. What an experience!  Advocates gathered to educate lawmakers about the need for improving access to healthy foods and ask for support of HB 250/SB296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act.  NC sweet potatoes accompanied by heart healthy recipes were also handed out, and a wheelbarrow filled to the brim with local produce was on display.  Since then, the House included $300,000 in their budget for the initiative and now the budget is headed to the Senate.  NC residents can take action on this issue – just click here.

Virginia held its annual Lobby Day in February, managing meetings with legislators in spite of harsh winter weather.  You're the Cure advocates educated legislators on how the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund would increase access to fresh foods across the state. Advocates followed the effort up later the same week by dropping off a grocery bag of fresh fruit with information about the need to legislators on their way into the Capitol.  Although funding was not ultimately included in the budget, the issue remains, and will be a continued advocacy focus. VA residents can further support this issue now by clicking here to take action.

The District of Columbia held its Lobby Day at City Council in April, bringing advocates together to talk about dealing with DC’s tobacco problems.  In addition to seeking funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs, You're the Cure advocates asked Councilmembers to remove tobacco from sports venues, raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, and to treat e-cigarettes the same as other tobacco products in its city code. Although the tobacco funding was not approved, some of the other tobacco issues are still under consideration. Those who live in DC can help push these issues forward by clicking here to take action.  

Maryland’s Lobby Day, focused on including healthy food options in state vending machines, was held in February.  You're the Cure advocates worked hard to educate legislators about providing healthy choices among the other offerings, a measure that would support a healthier population and serve as a good role model for others.  Although the bill was killed in the committee stage, advocates will continue to build support throughout the year, and try again next legislative session. MD residents can speak up for healthy foods by clicking here to take action.

We’d love for you to consider joining us next year at your Lobby Day!  Don’t forget to take action today to tell your lawmakers you support the policies of the AHA.

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Legislative Session is Over, How Did We Do?

The legislature has adjourned for the 2016 session and as you likely have heard they worked right down to the deadline. The heart-health policies we have been working on celebrated some big wins and a few disappointments. Take a minute to read our recap below. Stay tuned for possible special session to address some of the issues the legislature failed to reach agreement on—transportation, bonding, and other issues.

The Wins

STEMI System of Care – We have built a system of care for the most time sensitive type of heart attack, a STEMI. The new legislation authorizes the MN Department of Health to designate STEMI Receiving Centers and requires all EMS services in the state to have current triage and transport protocols for STEMI Patients. As a result of this success the state’s 5.4+ million residents, including those 8,000+ individuals who suffer a STEMI each year, will now be more likely to receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place, regardless of where they live in the state. This legislation has been a long time in the works and is now law thanks to your support and actions!

Strengthening Physical Education – We strengthened physical education this year by requiring new/updated PE standards and grade-specific benchmarks which were adopted as part of the supplemental budget bill (HF2749). Standards and benchmarks had not been updated since 2004! Much has changed since then to focus PE on physical fitness rather than competitive sports. This is a great win for Minnesota’s kids—stronger PE=healthier, happier, academically successful kids!

Good Food Access Fund – When we launched this campaign last fall, we hoped to build awareness about healthy food access with legislators this session, but ended up striking a serious chord for policymakers and stakeholders who want to see healthy food access addressed ASAP! The Senate language establishing the program, with $250,000 in one-time funding, was included in the supplemental budget bill under the Agriculture Article (HF2749). This small infusion of funds and establishment of the program in state statute will provide significant momentum to fully fund the Good Food Access Fund in 2017 (we are seeking $10 million per year for the fund). Stay tuned for more ways you can help keep this campaign moving forward and make it top of mind for lawmakers in the coming months.

Still in the Fight

Safe Routes to School – We are seeking a $6 million investment in safe routes to infrastructure in the capital investment/bonding bill. As you may have heard, no bonding bill was passed due to a last minute breakdown in the deal. The final version of the bonding bill did include funding for SRTS—up to $6 million at the discretion of the MNDOT commissioner. Possibility of a special session to pass a bonding bill is unclear at this time, but we will keep you posted when we know more and what actions you can take on this issue.

Active Transportation – As you have heard, no transportation bill was passed this session despite very intense negotiations throughout session and strong leadership by Chairman Dibble to fight for funding dedicated to active transportation – funding for walking and biking as part of a multi-modal comprehensive transportation package. This is one of the issues that is likely to resurface if a special session is called. We will continue to work this issue and ensure that walk/bike funding is a core part of the negotiations during a potential special session and next session.

Thank you for you action this year! It is because of dedicated advocates like you that we have been so successful! Please stay tuned for ways you can continue to help during the summer and fall!

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MA Budget Success

Last week when the Senate took up their budget we had some success and some losses. We did not get any additional funding for MA Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program. We also did not secure funding for CPR in Schools Grants or the AED Trust Fund which is disappointing but we will continue to work to secure this critical funding. 

We did secure language around funding for Mass in Motion and were able to work (really) hard to get $100,000 for the MA Food Trust to help run the program. We were told early on that it was a hard no, but thanks to our many partners and grassroots efforts we turned the no into a yes of partial funding. Lastly we were able to increase the Stroke Line item from $400,000 to $620,000 and secure the language that creates a stroke system of care, ensuring that we have two vehicles for this critical policy.

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