My advocacy journey with the American Heart Association began five years ago. At the age of sixteen, I joined the AHA Grassroots Action Team in Arkansas knowing I wanted to advocate for heart health in my state and for my family. As an avid runner, both on the Ouachita Baptist University Cross Country team and in half marathons with my dad, I’m constantly working to improve my own heart health through physical fitness but knew becoming an advocate with the AHA was a way to make a difference through the public policy process.
hero_image_alt_text===A picture of Taryn
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My Ouachita Baptist University Cross Country Team
A great thing about the AHA is the variety of ways you can get involved. They will work with you to find an issue and action that inspires you! In my time volunteering, I have had the opportunity to work on increasing healthy food access, volunteer at our Heart Ball in Hot Springs, and participate in congressional in-district meetings on improved health care access including telemedicine. I have had the chance to connect people with the resources they need for a healthier lifestyle, advocate for increased medical research funding and expanded health care coverage. With these opportunities, I have seen how effective advocacy involves a variety of tactics; phone calls, emails, in-person meetings, social media and so much more. The AHA is truly diverse in the advocacy opportunities it offers and the issues in which you can get involved.
Congressional In-District Meeting with AHA Grassroots Manager, Allison Hogue
As I have grown up, I have seen the need for the AHA’s work in my community. I have seen first-hand in high school how children can lack access to the healthy food they need and how vaping has become an increased problem in my age demographic, and how even smoking cigarettes is still a matter of great concern within my age group. This has only increased my gratitude for an organization that continually works to address pressing issues, such as these, to improve the health of our country and fills me with gratitude for being involved as an advocate.
Little Rock Half Marathon with my dad, Terry Bewley
The AHA has helped me grow as a person; in fact, in-district meetings with legislators increased my interest in government, and now I will be interning with one of our Senators in D.C. this summer! They have also helped me understand how there are areas in my own life where I can improve my heart health. Seeing the difference the AHA makes from the perspective of a high schooler, college student, and an advocate, makes me proud to be a small part of such a great organization. Thank you AHA, YOU ROCK!
Hot Springs Heart Ball 2019 with my fellow advocates Abby Davis, Hannah Walker and Emilee Webb