Guest Blogger: Christine Henderson, Government and Community Relations Director for the American Heart Association
On Friday, May 29th, I attended the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon an event where hundreds of women gathered together to help break down the barriers against heart disease and stroke for our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. It was such an empowering experience!
I set up a You're the Cure table focused on the need for CPR as a graduation requirement. As attendees stopped by the table, they saw a map of 22 states that have passed CPR in Schools legislation - and Florida wasn't highlighted, However, neighboring states were, such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Conversation after conversation highlighted that people were confused on why Florida has failed to implement this lifesaving policy and were annoyed that legislators failed to see the importance of such a law.
A proud parent boasted, “My child learned CPR in their high school, somebody is doing something right.” The parent was right. Here in Duval County, we owe much of our “thank you's” to Superintendent Vitti. As Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, the nation’s 16th largest school district serving over 125,000 students, he understands the benefits of educating and empowering our students; our future community leaders. This year, Duval offered the opportunity to participate in the Hands-Only CPR™ program to high schools and middle schools and even included 4th and 5th graders from a handful of their elementary schools.
Duval is doing its part in creating the next generation of life savers. At the Jacksonville Go Red for Women Luncheon, over 65 attendees signed thank you cards applauding Superintendent Vitti for his leadership and continued support of CPR in schools; many of whom joined our You’re the Cure network to help support implementing this policy in all school districts throughout our state.
Although CPR is not a graduation requirement in Duval county, we are proud that the district's leadership understands the importance of CPR in Schools, and their continued support will help the state of Florida to get it right! As an advocate, I was moved by the many supporters encouraging me to keep working on implementing this policy for all children in our state. As a parent myself, who has taught my 8 year-old son Hands-Only CPR, CPR as a graduation requirement just makes sense. Can’t have it no other way.