American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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You're the Cure Advocates Go Red!

Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s campaign to raise awareness about women’s risk of cardiovascular disease and empower them to take control of their heart health.  It is a year-long campaign that culminates in February for Heart Month.  All of the markets within the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate celebrate with events throughout February and into the spring.

Advocacy work goes hand in hand with the Go Red For Women movement in many ways.  One way is our advocates work with their local government officials on proclamations that declare the first Friday in February as Wear Red Day.  In North Carolina, the town of Matthews, Huntersville, Cary, and Winston-Salem passed proclamations.  As did Spartanburg and Columbia in South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. 

The District of Columbia took their support of Wear Red Day to the next level with several local councilmembers taking to social media to express their office-wide support.   Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau of Ward 1, Jack Evans of Ward 2, and Charles Allen in Ward 6 sent out tweets to their followers of their offices dressed to the gills in their finest red. Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander emailed her constituents to urge them to be diligent in keeping their lives free of cardiovascular disease with helpful tips and facts. 

Another great example happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, when advocate Dr. Sandra Burke presented to the Mecklenburg County Board of Directors about heart health and continuing collaborative efforts to improve the health of the local community.  And here, the women of the Virginia General Assembly went red on 2/9 to bring awareness to heart disease.  

Go Red is a nationwide movement that unifies communities in prevention and education about the risk factors and warning signs of cardiovascular disease.  We are proud of the policies and changes you are influencing to make strides toward a world where we are free of heart disease and stroke.

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Your Advocacy Team is Hitting the Road in 2016!

Mark your calendars to join us in 2016!  The North Carolina AHA Government Relations Team: Betsy Vetter, Sarah Jacobson and Kim Chidester will be traveling across the state (from Asheville to Wilmington!) to offer 5 in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.

In these workshops, we will offer education on our 2016 policy issues, an advocacy coaching session with a fun twist, and training on how to interact with your lawmakers.

Choose the workshop(s) you’d like to attend:

[Triangle] February 9th, 2016 from 11:30am – 1:30pm at AHA Offices [3131 RDU Center Drive, Morrisville]
[Charlotte] February 10th, 2016 from 5pm – 7pm at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church [517 Baldwin Avenue, Charlotte]
[Asheville] March 24, 2016 from 5pm – 7pm at Mission Health, Biltmore Park [First floor Community Room, 310 Long Shoals Rd, Arden, 28704]
[Wilmington] April 13, 2016 from 11:30 to 1:30p: Location to be finalized

In these workshops, we will be offering an issues-training around the following policy initiatives:

  • Healthy Corner Store Initiative
  • Closing the Coverage Gap
  • Tobacco use prevention and cessation programs
  • Issue in the pipeline: Active Transportation

We hope that you will save the date that works the best for you to join us in person, and be sure to watch your email over the next few weeks for reminders about these trainings. If you would like to join, please RSVP to Kim Chidester.

Also, we will be offering another opportunity to engage alongside us as we meet directly with your lawmakers!  Please mark your calendar to join us on May 10 as we prepare for our 2016 NC Lobby Day!

See you soon, North Carolina!

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We Are Making Things Happen in South Carolina!

We are excited to kick off 2016 in South Carolina!  This year, session is expected to be eventful and productive.  Please check out our legislative priorities below.  We hope you will join us as we continue our exciting and life-saving work in the Palmetto State!

CPR Training in Schools
Require Hands-Only CPR training as part of the already required health education class for high school students.  Right now, less than 11% of people suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, and training a new class of young citizens in CPR every year can change this frightening statistic. 

We’ll also be working to: 

  • Require schools to implement the beverage and snack guidelines in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interim Final Rule Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools.
  • Fully fund the Stroke Systems of Care Act of 2011 setting up a statewide stroke registry. Data analysis from the registry will ensure stroke patients receive the best available care for their condition.
  • Require Medicaid to cover cessation services for current tobacco users including both counseling and pharmacotherapy with no or minimal cost sharing.

Also, please be sure to watch your email for upcoming opportunities to join us in 2016!  Kim Chidester, your Grassroots Director, will be traveling across the state (from Columbia to Charleston!) to offer 3 in-person Advocacy Training Sessions.  As these dates and locations are set, we will be sure to let you know so you can mark your calendars.

Thanks for being by our side!  We couldn’t do this without you. You’re the Cure advocates work to support and advocate for public policies that will help improve the cardiovascular health of Americans and reduce deaths by coronary heart disease and stroke.   If our voice is loud enough this session, we can impact the lives of South Carolinians for many years to come! 

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Neal Reynolds

Neal Reynolds, Maryland

Neal Reynolds was never an active advocate until his passion for telemedicine collided with a policy opportunity. As a physician who has spent a lot of time over the years working in hospital intensive care units, he has unique insight into how policy change for telemedicine would save lives. "It's very powerful to work at this level, where you can push for legislation that would change entire systems of care for maximum impact. I am excited about broadening the scope of telemedicine through public policy opportunities, bringing treatment to people who might not otherwise receive it."

Neal (center top in photo) says he was initially intimidated by the legislative process, but AHA staff helped him with what to do and how to approach legislators. When asked how he would counsel other You're the Cure members to prepare themselves for a higher level of advocacy, he offered these words of advice: 

  • Realize you don't have to be afraid of it. Swallow any discomfort, do your homework and you'll do fine.
  • Find someone who knows the ropes, like I did with AHA's Government Relations Director in Maryland, and let them guide you. 
  • Be honest and sincere. Share the passion you have for the issue and make it personal when you talk about it.

Neal wrote letters and provided written testimony to help legislators understand the importance of the telemedicine bills. "The legislators wanted my input, even asked what they could do to help! I wish I'd known about this avenue for change years ago."

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A New Year in Connecticut

The legislature is getting ready to go back to work and I am excited about all the great policies we are going to be working on. We have made great progress on ensuring that our schools aren’t serving unhealthy foods, so why are they allowed to advertise them in schools? We think that schools should not allow the marketing of unhealthy foods that do not meet Connecticut’s school nutrition standards. We also think we have an opportunity to provide healthy food and beverages in vending machines in all state owned and operated buildings.

We also have an opportunity to secure much needed funding to ensure that we are able to construct bikeways and walkways, provide for safe routes to schools and provide incentives to schools that promote shared use of school facilities. We also believe that we can improve the quality of care provided to the residents of Connecticut by creating a stroke system of care. We look forward to working with you to ensure that we are improving the lives of Connecticut residents.

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A New Year's Resolution that Matters

This year, why not make a resolution that matters and is really easy to keep?

We have a number of legislative priorities we’ll be promoting at the Statehouse to help Vermonters live healthier lives. Pick one or two and make a pledge to be a champion. If one of them passes, you’ll feel like a rock star, guaranteed!

Make a vow to make a phone call to a legislator, write a letter to the editor or attend a legislative breakfast in your community and let your lawmakers know the issue is important to you. I’ll provide whatever help you need! Just pick an issue below and make a difference! Contact me at

Improve Nutrition in Restaurant Kids MealsEnsure all restaurant meals marketed to children meet nutrition standards. Remove sugar-sweetened beverages from all restaurant kids’ meals.

Congenital Heart Defect Screening – Require all Vermont birthing facilities to screen for congenital heart defects in infants using pulse oximetry screening.

Tobacco Control Program Funding – Protect and increase public funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs to the 2014 funding level of $3.9 million.

E-cigarettes – Include e-cigarettes in Vermont’s clean indoor air laws, ensuring that electronic cigarettes are not used in any place of business that is accessible to the public.  In addition to conventional tobacco products, exposure to vapor from unregulated tobacco substitutes such as e-cigarettes presents a potential threat to public health while normalizing smoking behavior. 

Obesity Prevention – Require nutrition standards for food purchased or sold by the State of Vermont. Fund obesity prevention efforts. Require road construction and reconstruction create complete streets that are safe and convenient for all users and all modes of transportation.

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Advocate Calls On Lawmakers: Resolve to Spend More to Curb Tobacco Use

On December 26, 2015 the Charlotte Observer published an opinion editorial written by Dr. Sandra Burke, You’re the Cure NC advocate and member of the American Heart Association’s Charlotte Board of Directors. In the editorial, Dr. Burke points out that among the 50 states, North Carolina ranks 45th in the amount it spends to prevent tobacco use, a leading cause of preventable death.  Our state spends $1.2 million, which is only 1.2 percent of the amount that the Centers for Disease Control recommends that states spend to curb tobacco use and support programs to help smokers quit.

As an advocate she is calling on NC lawmakers to address this issue in 2016 by providing additional funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.  In her words, "Tobacco claims 14,400 lives and costs the state $3.8 billion in health care bills annually. These figures are appalling and we must invest whatever it takes to change these trends now!"

Read the article here.

Take Action!  You can add your voice to Dr. Burke’s by sending your lawmakers the link to Dr. Burke’s editorial.  Urge them to support additional funding for tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.  Remember to email Betsy Vetter to let her know that you wrote to your lawmakers! 

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A New Year in Massachusetts

As we start 2016, we have a busy legislative session ahead of us. We are making progress on many of our issues, quality physical education, stroke systems of care, healthy food financing, healthy vending, shared use, tobacco, and our local CPR in schools efforts. I look forward to working together with you to make sure that we see some of these pass the goal line this legislative session. I know you have advocated for many of these issues for many years and just like me you are ready for some success! I hope you are ready for a productive and busy 2016!

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The 2016 Legislative Session Will Be a Busy One

Guest blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

The 2016 Idaho Legislative Session is gearing up, and the AHA has plenty of work to do on all our policy priorities.

Over the interim, we worked with the Department of Education on improving Physical Education content standards in K-12, to help improve the quality and thoroughness of PE in Idaho. We will work with the Department as they go forward in presenting those changes to the Legislative Committees. Once the improved content standards are approved and implemented this session, the intent will be to move legislation to make PE a requirement in the 2017 session.

We will also be finalizing the rules for the Time Sensitive Emergencies (TSE) System, which we have been working on with the Governor’s TSE Council. TSE deals with heart attack (STEMI), stroke and trauma, where the amount of time it takes to receive care is crucial to the outcome for a patient. These rules provide the structure and process for hospital stroke and heart attack center designation and creation of a data registry for performance improvement.

Putting the Time Sensitive Emergencies system in place will help improve care in Idaho by coordinating emergency medical services, first responders, hospitals, and others involved in the health care system. It will allow all parties involved to communicate more effectively and efficiently, getting patients the care they need in time, improving outcomes and survivability.

We are also working with the Close the Gap Coalition, a group organized to support the Healthy Idaho Plan (HIP). The HIP would allow low-income Idahoans who do not qualify for health insurance subsidies, but have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, the opportunity to access health insurance. The plan would also reduce the need and cost for indigent and catastrophic care plans in the counties and state, while ensuring that all Idahoans have access to care.

The Millennium Fund Committee is reviewing grant applications for smoking education, prevention, and cessation programs, and we will once again support our partners in the effort to reduce the poor health impacts of smoking. We will encourage the Committee to increase funding from $4.7 million last year -  over 25% of CDC recommended funding, to $7.8 million, or 50% of recommended funding. This is in correlation with our local efforts to pass smoke free city ordinances throughout the state.

We have a lot to do, and going into an election year, it will likely be a short session. Advocates will be crucial to our efforts to help people live healthier lives, have access to health care, and improve outcomes for all Idahoans. Your help will reduce the risks of stroke and cardiovascular disease and I look forward to working with you to provide all Idahoans the opportunity to live healthier lives.

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Minnesota You're the Cure Advocacy Summit - 2015

Last month we held the 2nd Annual You're the Cure Advocacy Summit in Minnesota for our insider advocates!

Our insiders started the day introducing themselves and painting their favorite fruit or vegetable.




The theme of the summit this year was "INSPIRED." Throughout the day advocates told us how they are inspired through the training and projects provided.

One of the new things brough to this year's summit was THE LEGISLATIVE GAMES, where advocates split into two teams and set up how the legislative process is run on game boards. At the end of the game, Annie threw in a wild card at them, one was what happens if your bill doesn't get signed by the Governor? Adovcates then had to show more ways that they reach the Governor and get them to sign, run a social media campaign, get petition cards signed, etc.

See more pictures from this year's summit HERE

Want to be a YTC Insider and be at next year’s summit? Start taking action at and move up in ranks!

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