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, April 26, 2011

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says CDC Report on Children’s Food Environment Underscores Need for Strong Public Policies

April 26, 2011

Our nation’s youth face major roadblocks to good health with easy access to calorie-laden snacks, sugary beverages and other unhealthy foods in their schools and communities. With about 1 out of every 6 children in the U.S. considered obese, we are condemning our kids to a bleak future of premature health problems such as type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. The CDC Report: Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report is a painful reminder that many children continue to lack access to fruits, vegetables and nutritious food close to home. We must place a greater emphasis on making healthier food choices more accessible and affordable, particularly for families living in food deserts where the nearest supermarket could be miles away and for those surrounded by fast food restaurants or corner stores with less healthy offerings.

Parents, schools, child-care facilities and communities have the potential to improve the health of young people by providing the tools they need to learn lifelong healthy behaviors. By strengthening nutrition standards in schools, pre-schools and day care settings, we can help limit kids’ exposure to unhealthy options. We must also support measures to reduce sodium and eliminate trans fat in the food supply, increase community and school gardens, reduce children’s exposure to marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods and require calorie information to be displayed on menus and menu boards in all restaurants.

Strong public policies and community programs to increase access to healthy foods will help children develop heart-healthy eating habits that could significantly reduce childhood obesity rates across the country.

Accepting Nominations for the Twin Cities Lifestyle Change Award

Have you lost a lot of weight in the past year, started living healthier or know someone who has? Nominate yourself or a friend today to be honored at the Twin Cities Heart Walk with the Lifestyle Change Award. Apply online by May 4th at

Last year’s winner, Billie Mackey, lost over 150lbs just by walking every day.

Billie Before

Billie After

Monday, April 25, 2011

Minnesota Heart on the Hill Day at the Capitol a Success

Our Heart on the Hill Day at the Capitol in conjunction with the Raise it for Health coalition was held on April 7. This was one of our biggest events yet, with more than 400 people in attendance! Thanks to our advocates who attended, we were able to hold constituent meetings with two-thirds of the Minnesota legislature advocating on three tobacco issues – defending Freedom to Breathe, passing the “Little Cigar Bill” and encouraging legislators to increase the price of tobacco.

Watch this short video recap on the day:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Minnesota Advocates Hit Capitol Hill

On April 11 and 12th the American Heart Association held its Federal Lobby Day in Washington D.C. Minnesota was well represented by volunteer advocates Stevie Nelson, Mark Olson and Jack Olwell, as well as Heart Association staff Justin Bell and Heather Shetka. We were there to meet with our members of congress to ask for their support increasing NIH funding for heart disease and stroke research, the FIT Kids Act and Safe Routes to Schools.

As survivors of a heart attack and stroke, Mark and Stevie were the best possible voices to convey the importance of NIH research to the health and well being of all Minnesotans and they did an fantastic job not only putting the personal face to the issue, but also pointing out how much Minnesota has benefited from NIH research economically.

When we were talking about FIT Kids or safe Routes to School, the message was childhood obesity prevention and creating a more active environment for our kids. As a Physical Education teacher for 34 years, we couldn’t have hoped for a better advocate than Jack and he came in fired up and well prepared!

After spending Monday traveling, preparing and training, we spent the entire day Tuesday bouncing around Capitol Hill trying to squeeze in SIX meetings (often as geographically far apart as they could be). We met with staff from the offices of Rep. John Kline, Rep. Erik Paulsen, Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. We also met in person with Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Betty McCollum. We certainly had a Dream Team – our advocates did an excellent job of working together to effectively bring our message to Congress.

Support their efforts by sending a message to your legislators on these three important issues. Follow this link to take action and participate virtually in our Lobby Day.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Culture of Wellness Symposium: May 12

Culture of Wellness Symposium
WHEN: Thursday, May 12, 2011
7:30 am - 10:30 am
WHERE: Towers Watson
8400 Normandale Lake Boulevard

Please join the American Heart Association and our local sponsor Towers Watson for a workshop on implementing wellness at your worksite. We’re partnering with organizations across our community in a comprehensive program to help local businesses foster heart-healthy work environments to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The workshop will include real-world examples on “what works in our workplace” and practical tools you can use.

Event is FREE, but Registration Required. Register by May 6, 2011 at For furtherdetails or questions please call 952-278-7910.

Towers Watson is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Parents want more phys ed in schools: new national poll

Apr.19, 2011

Childhood obesity affects 1 of every 6 kids in the United States, in part due to a lack of physical activity. Schools can play a key part in offering elementary-age kids lots of chances to be active—on the playground during recess and when they’re in gym.

But recent increasing expectations about academic achievement, coupled with budget cuts, have prompted many schools to cut back on both recess and gym class.
The U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health asked parents of children 6 to 11 years old for their views about physical activity in schools.

“Parents are virtually unanimous that it’s very important for elementary-school kids to get physical activity during every school day,” says Sarah Clark, M.P.H., associate director of the poll and associate director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the U-M Medical School . “However, one-third of parents think that their kids do not get enough physical activity at school.”

35 percent of parents feel their children’s elementary schools have too little time in gym class, 26 percent think there is not enough playground equipment and 22 percent say there is too little time for recess.

“Academic and budget pressures threaten schools’ ability to provide outlets and opportunities for children’s physical activity. Many parents are noticing that something is missing,” says Clark.
Another key result from this poll is that parents’ own weight is related to perceptions of the need for schools to help children be physically active. With regard to time for gym, playground equipment, time for recess and playground space, overweight and obese parents were more likely than other parents to say their kids did not have enough during the school day.

“This is a new insight at the national level, indicating that parents with their own weight challenges are even more likely to see schools as a key partner in addressing the risks of obesity for their own kids,” says Clark.

“School officials should note the strong support from parents for the importance of physical activity during the school day for children in the elementary grades,” continues Clark. “Parents see many reasons why physical activity is valuable for their children—not just in preventing obesity but also in promoting healthy physical development. For parents of children in elementary school, it is critically important that children get the physical activity they need during the school day.”

For full report, see link below.