Hello everyone!! This past month has been packed with senior activities at my school (lots of student council activities, homecoming preparation, and of course, homework and studying). Thankfully, I’ve also found a little time within all that to volunteer outside of school. We can all carve out a little time in our day or week to be an advocate for the people and causes we care so much about.
hero_image_alt_text===Picture of Abby
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My time as a Sweetheart at the 2016 Heart Ball with my brother, Mason
I was recently asked to speak at a Sweetheart event by sharing my story. The American Heart Association Sweethearts are high school sophomores who have the opportunity to participate in a program that teaches about heart healthy lifestyles and about the prevention of heart disease and stroke. And the great thing is that it isn’t just an educational program but it also provides many volunteer opportunities as well. I was fortunate to have been a Sweetheart a few years ago!
As a former Sweetheart, I jumped at the idea to share some wisdom with these tenth graders (although it seems like yesterday that I was in their shoes). I attended their heart healthy hike on a rainy day but thankfully it was held inside at the Arkansas State Capitol. Before they spent time on their indoor hike, the girls and their parents sat down on the capitol steps for a chat.
Talking to 2018-19 Sweethearts at the Arkansas State Capitol
As a youth advocate, I gave them examples on how to keep being a volunteer even after their time in the program. Writing this monthly guest blog, doing twitter and Instagram takeovers, donating my pottery creations for the Heart Ball auction, and volunteering at the Heart Walk, Go Red For Women luncheon, and many other AHA events are a few of the ways that I’ve continued to support the organization after my “official” time as a sweetheart. I asked those at the capitol that day (the girls and their parents) to raise their hands if they knew a family, friend, or coworker who has had a heart attack or suffers from heart disease. Almost all of them raised their hand. It was such a heavy reminder that heart disease is so common in America. It is the number one killer of men and women.
My Pap & Bogie with me at the 2016 Heart Ball
Once the girls understood that they had a personal connection to this disease, they realized they also have a story that could be told. As most of you reading this know, my story is because of my grandfather “Pap” and I have made it my mission to speak about his story as much as I can. So many people in this world have a connection to heart disease, but many do not know how to get plugged in to be able to share their stories in effective ways to make a real difference. The American Heart Association has millions of opportunities for youth advocates (just like me) and adults too!
If you haven't met Dave, Heyward or Allison with the AHA advocacy team then you should take a minute to reach out and let them know you would like to find a way to share your story or just get involved in the advocacy work of the American Heart Association. You will love them! I know I do!
Me and Mr. Dave (Oberembt), the AHA Government Relations Director
Join me as we make a difference in the lives of those around us! Get started today by texting HEART to 46839 or visit https://www.yourethecure.org/join. If you have any questions about the Sweetheart program or Heart Ball please feel free to reach out to Tammy Quick at Tammy.Quick@heart.org.
Until next time,
Me and 2018-19 Sweetheart, Sarah Cate Lay