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Advocate Spotlight: Rae O'Leary

Rae O'Leary is a advocate for public health and led the Canli Coalition to pass a tribal ordinance to protect the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from the dangers of secondhand smoke by making all enclosed places smoke-free.  Rae also joined our state-wide advocacy committee to share her knowledge, expertise and experiences to benefit all communities in South Dakota.  We are pleased to introduce you to Rae O'Leary. 

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As a public health advocate and research Nurse I believe in volunteering with organizations like the American Heart Association dedicated to reducing the cardiovascular health disparities our nation experiences. Working on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota, I encounter shocking data on the health disparities of American Indians, as well as real people suffering from and dying from cardiovascular disease.

It is important to me to be an advocate for health equity in the community I live in and at a national level. For the last 7 years, I have led the Canli Coalition that got a tribal ordinance passed to protect the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from the dangers of secondhand smoke by making all enclosed public places smoke-free. My motivation for this work was initially personal, because I did not want my children growing up in a place where it was acceptable to smoke in the bank. However, over the years my reason for being a public health advocate expanded to a desire to establish a community where American Indian’s have an equal opportunity to be healthy as the rest of America.

Successfully passing the CRST Smoke-Free Air Ordinance would not have been possible without the resources, support and funding from national organizations like AHA. My next goal is to create and provide a model for tribal tobacco policy that our greater reaching partners can share with other tribes to have a larger impact on cardiovascular health of American’s. It is absolutely possible to create change independently, but it is easier and faster to establish partnerships with others who share a common goal.

For more information on The Canli Coalition and tribal tobacco policy follow us! www.facebook.com/CanliCoalitionOfCRST or @CanliCoalition on Twitter, or contact Rae O’Leary, RN, RRT, AE-C. Missouri Breaks Industries Research, Inc., PO Box 1824, Eagle Butte, SD 57625 or call 605-964-3418

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