Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Part 2: What are your candidates saying about health care?

Register Today, Vote Tomorrow.
If there is one thing that all You're the Cure advocates know, it is that every voice makes a difference in the fight against heart disease and stroke. You may have responded to action alerts, written letters or placed phone calls to your legislators, or even shared your story in-person on Capitol Hill. However, with the 2008 elections just around the corner and campaigns gearing up across the country, you have another opportunity to make your voice heard. As Americans and You're the Cure advocates, it is our responsibility to vote.

Right now is the perfect time to make sure you are registered to cast your ballot in November. Registering to vote is quick and easy! Simply click here to fill out a registration form and learn more about registering to vote in Minnesota. Minnesota also has same-day registration on Electoin Day.

Where do I Vote?
The most important action you can do is vote. On Tuesday, November 4, plan your day so you have enough time to go to your polling place and cast your vote. Click here to find where you should go to vote.

Get involved in a campaign!
Volunteer or donate money to a campaign. Remember, the state of Minnesota has a Political Contribution Refund program (up to $50 for a single person or $100 for a married couple). For more information, call the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-296-4444 or visit the MN Department of Revenue website.

Hold candidates accountable!
Interaction with elected officials shouldn’t stop after November! This is just the beginning! After the election, write a letter to the person who won office and let him/her know that you would appreciate his/her support in preventing heart disease and stroke or strengthening physical education requirements in our schools. Include some information about your policy priority and be sure to state you will be following the officials’ actions in office. After receiving a commitment to support your issues, thank them for their support! Elected officials deserve and appreciate receiving thanks from their constituents!

Write a Letter to the Editor
Candidates, elected officials and decision-makers rely heavily on local news outlets to gauge which issues are important to their voters. A letter to the editor of your local newspaper gives you a chance to inform thousands of people about the critical issues surrounding heart disease and stroke. Let your candidates know fighting heart disease and stroke is important to you as a voter. Even if it’s not published, your letter may inspire an editorial on the subject. The American Heart Association has sample letters you can use and personalize with your story. Keep your letter under 250 words. You can send it by fax or e-mail. Be sure to include your contact information, including your hometown. The newspaper will most likely call you to confirm that you wrote the letter before they run it.Need help? Feel free to contact the American Heart Association's communications department.

Additional Resources
The American Heart Association of Minnesota has dedicated staff to help you be the best and most successful advocate you can be. Visit our Advocacy in Minnesota webpage, email the AHA’s advocacy staff or simply refer a friend to join the You’re the Cure network. Together we can make Minnesota a healthier state free from the devastation of heart disease and stroke.

Disclaimer: As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the American Heart Association is prohibited from participating in any political campaign and does not support or endorse any candidate for public office.

Monday, October 13, 2008

2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

The Federal Government has issued its first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. They describe the types and amounts of physical activity that offer substantial health benefits to Americans. Check them out!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What are your candidates saying about health care?

This fall campaign ads will be on TV and candidates will appear on your doorstep. You may be inclined to turn the channel or shut the door—DON’T! Election season is a prime opportunity for American Heart Association supporters to jump right in to help inform candidates about why fighting heart disease and stroke is a priority!

Below are a few ways you can help ensure that passing policies aimed at fighting heart disease and stroke is a priority for all of Minnesota’s elected officials.

2008 Election Guide
Check out this resource about what you can do to ensure heart-healthy policies are at the top of your candidates' priorities! 2008 Minnesota Election Guide.

Who Are Your Candidates?
This is an important election year in Minnesota. In addition to the Presidential election and Senate race, all of the Minnesota House of Representatives are up for re-election. This is a critical time to let those seeking office know that fighting heart disease and stroke is a priority in their community! Click here to find the candidates who want to represent you!

Attend candidate forums and town hall meetings!
This fall, you will have many opportunities to meet candidates and learn about their policy positions at candidate forums or town hall meetings. To find candidate forums in your community, check out the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website or the League of Women Voters website.

Other non-profit organizations are also holding candidate forums:
Town hall meetings are generally organized by sitting elected officials. You will most likely find information about them listed in a mailing or on the elected officials’ websites. If not, call their offices and ask for the schedule.
Minnesota House of Representatives, 651-296-2146 or 800-657-3550
Minnesota Senate, 651-296-0504 or 888-234-1112

Ask the candidates their positions on our key policy issues!
When you run into candidates at the county fair or on your doorstep, talk to them! Ask them their position on prevention funding for heart disease and stroke. Or what they think about strengthening physical education in our schools. Tell them why passing these policies is important to you and offer to provide them with more information. American Heart Association staff will help you follow up and send appropriate information. Candidates need to know that these issues are priorities for constituents like you! Here are two sample questions you can ask candidates:

"Currently MN has no graduation requirement or statewide standards for physical education. Do you support legislation to create statewide standards and a graduation requirement for physical education?”
Click here to print off

"Heart disease and stroke combined is the #1 killer of Minnesotans. Do you support new state funding for prevention of heart disease and stroke?”
Click here to print off

Politics in Minnesota has also compiled a list of candidates with links to each candidate’s website—one of a number of places to learn about candidates and their positions. You can also check out Kaiser Family Foundation's new resource that compares the Presidential candidates' positions on health care.

If you talk to candidates, let the American Heart Association advocacy department know! We can help you ensure the candidates keep their word if elected!