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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.

Watch a video highlighting the award winners below!

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Published in TribTalk: Bringing Texans closer to their grocer

Tania Boughton and Dr. Stephen Pont write in TribTalk, a publication of The Texas Tribune, on how Texas Grocery Access Investment would create jobs, save taxpayers millions in health care costs, and improve quality of life in rural and urban communities. Check out the May 8 article here! 

Tania Noelle Boughton and Stephen Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP, both serve on the American Heart Association-SouthWest Affiliate Texas State Leadership Council for Obesity Prevention.

 

Back to Closer to My Grocer home page

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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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Ask Texas Lawmakers to Fund Prevention Programs

Because of your help over the last three months lawmakers have drafted a state budget that includes several important investments for heart disease and stroke prevention. Take Action Here and ask lawmakers to fund critical measures that will prevent and treat heart disease and stroke:   http://p2a.co/DKoFezs

The Texas House has passed their version of the state budget and now the Texas Senate is considering their version.  The budget that is eventually passed will fund state programs over the next two years and we want to ensure Heart and Stroke programs are adequately funded. 

Here are some of the funding items we support:

 -$2 million for Heart Attack and Stroke Data Collection. These funds will support a state program to collect data on the prevalence and treatment of heart attack and stroke, to improve care for heart attack and stroke patients in Texas.

 -$10 million for Texas Grocery Access.  This investment will provide grants and low cost loans to incentivize grocery stores opening in underserved communities.  Everyone should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and this will help provide more options in the most needed areas of our state.  

 -1 million for Coordinated School Health (CSH). These funds will help school districts implement CSH which is  a systematic set of school-affiliated strategies and activities designed to advance student academic performance through physical, social, and educational development. 

 -$11 million for Tobacco Prevention and Cessations.  These evidence based programs have proven to reduce youth smoking and provide resources for smokers that want to quite.  However, this program is underfunded based on Texas’ population and smoking rate.

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Carol Sterling

Carol Sterling began her time as a volunteer for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Ponca City, working with Heart Walk. Over the past few years, Carol became involved in the Go Red for Women campaign through the Passion Committee. Her first opportunity to learn about Advocacy happened when she attended her first Go Red Day at the Capitol event in February 2014, where she spoke to her state lawmakers about the importance of CPR training for High School students.
 
Since then, Carol has been an active member of the You’re the Cure network, and participated in many proclamation ceremonies for Stroke and Heart disease awareness. Carol is a Heart Disease survivor, and enjoys sharing her story with lawmakers because she believes it’s important to put a face to heart disease in Oklahoma.
 
Carol will soon head to Washington D.C. for the 2015 You’re the Cure on the Hill Lobby Day and will meet with members of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation on important issues such as funding for the National Institute of Health and School Nutrition. 

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Texas Kids Tell Legislators It's Important to Be #CloserToMyGrocer

On Wednesday, March 18, the Voices for Healthy Kids Texas campaign team hosted a Youth Advocating for Heart event at the Texas Capitol to advocate on behalf of increased access to healthy foods.

 Watch the recap video here!

“We’re trying to make it fair for other people who don’t have access to [grocery] stores to be able to have access … so they can live a long healthy life like I do,” said youth advocate Sky Travis, a fifth-grader.

More than 70 youth advocates, community members, school teachers and administrators, heart disease survivors, and American Heart Association volunteers came together from across the state to advocate for Texas Grocery Access Investment.

Eleven groups of advocates made their way to the Texas State Capitol, where they held about 65 meetings with legislators and staff. The youth advocates told compelling stories about limited grocery access in their neighborhoods or their friends’ neighborhoods. The timing of this event wasat a critical point in the campaign – one day before the related legislation was to be considered by the House Economic and Small Business Development Committee.

“Junk foods aren’t always okay to have, and I think that stores should have more healthy choices,” said Haeli Pradia, a sixth grade volunteer advocate.

The kids were honored to represent their schools and hometowns in the State Capitol. Teachers were also grateful for this opportunity for their students, most of whom were visiting Austin for the first time.

One volunteer, Sydne Marshall, is the supervisor of health and physical education teachers for Cy-Fair ISD. In this role, she works to help create the curriculum for students. Even with a strong curriculum focused on healthy eating and physical activity, she said, “It’s impossible for us to tell our students to pursue that outside the classroom if they are not able to have access to grocery stores.”

To learn more about the event, check out the Storify recap.


Back to CloserToMyGrocer.com

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Texans testify in support of Grocery Access Investment

On Thursday, March 19, Texans representing a variety of businesses and populations in Texas testified on behalf of HB 1485, the Texas Grocery Access Investment Act, in a hearing held by the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development. Only a day after a large Advocating for Heart day during which youth advocates and volunteers from around the state advocated their legislators on behalf of decreasing childhood obesity and increasing access to healthy food in Texas, the Committee heard compelling testimonies in support of HB 1485.

This bill, introduced by Representative Eddie Rodriguez of Austin and Representative Patricia Harless of Houston, would create the Texas Grocery Access Investment Fund within the Texas Department of Agriculture, to provide grants and low interest loans to grocery store operators to open new stores, or renovate or expand stores, in low and moderate-income or remote rural areas throughout Texas that do not have access to healthy foods. The goal is to improve the health of Texans who lack access to healthy food by addressing the lack of grocery stores in underserved communities, while boosting the local economy in these communities.

Tania Noelle Boughton of Dallas, founder of the “Check the Light before You Bite!” educational program for children, testified that even if children know how to choose healthy food and are able to choose it at school, they have little chance to grow up healthy if they are not able to access healthy food at home. By incentivizing business owners to open grocery stores in underserved communities, Texas could help these children fight obesity and drive down high health care costs.

Tania Boughton
   
Amber Cooney of Austin, Director of Development and Communications at PeopleFund, described how assistance from Community Development Financial Institutions such as PeopleFund can help grocers overcome the barriers to entry in underserved communities. Improving access to healthy food in low-income communities in both rural and urban settings goes beyond improving diet and health outcomes—bringing new food outlets into underserved areas can provide an economic stimulus in communities that need it most. Grocery stores often serve as anchors, spurring local economic development by creating new jobs, revitalizing commercial districts, improving nearby housing values, and generating additional sales tax.
Amber Cooney
  

Other witnesses testifying in support of the bill included:

  • Dan Gillotte, Chief Executive Grocer, Wheatsville Co-op, Austin
  • Houston City Council Member Stephen Costello
  • Jenny Ayer, Children at Risk
  • Dr. Deanna Hoelscher, University of Texas School of Public Health, and Director of the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living

Dan Gillotte
   
 Council Member Stephen Costello

 Back to CloserToMyGrocer.com

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Advocating for Heart: Take action to get Texas #CloserToMyGrocer!

On March 18, youth advocates and volunteers from across Texas will be Advocating for Heart in Austin to ask their elected officials to bring them closer to their grocer!

Follow along on social media using the hashtag #CloserToMyGrocer and at @YoureTheCureTX.

Join the movement and take action today! Click here to ask your lawmakers to help fight childhood obesity and increase access to healthy foods, by supporting Grocery Access Investment in Texas.

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