Nancy Chapman, a long-time American Heart Association volunteer and You’re the Cure advocate, has spent her lifetime promoting the importance of nutrition as it relates to heart health. From teaching classes as a nutritionist, to supporting community health through policy change, Nancy has been an extraordinary asset in the fight against heart disease in the Greater Washington Region.
Nancy, whose father was a cardiologist, grew up in a family that consistently followed heart disease prevention strategies. Despite their healthy lifestyle, her mother required open-heart surgery due to a childhood disease. It was through this experience that Nancy recognized the nature of heart disease: everyone is vulnerable. She joined the American Heart Association as a volunteer and began using You’re the Cure as a vehicle to let her voice be heard.
Nancy says what she likes the most about advocating through You’re the Cure is that you can have an immense impact on your community’s health. She reflected on a particular advocacy moment that really stood out to her: “There’s always a passionate story of how people’s lives have changed. As corny as it seems, personal testimony touches members of the Council personally; they have a moment to think about what their responsibility can and should be within the community. That has been a very positive experience for me.”
Although Nancy has worked on a tremendous number of issues throughout her career, food access in Washington, DC is a current area of interest for her. She explains that in addition to better food access through programs such as DC Central Kitchen and Martha's Table that connect communities to healthy food, we must also find ways to improve housing and other conditions in underserved communities. Nancy urges You’re the Cure advocates to support policies that improve both food access and underlying risk factors and contributors to heart disease.
Obesity prevention and awareness is another priority issue that Nancy feels passionate about. She encourages people to identify the unhealthy patterns in their lives through self-awareness and then take simple steps to change. “Individual behavior change is the only thing that is going to change obesity; motivating people to take care of their health in a gradual way is the most important part.”
It is with this motivational mindset that Nancy leaves these words of wisdom: “Enable your family members and friends to live healthier; the community has many wonderful services that can help people change negative lifestyle choices. You can take control of your own future by starting to act at any point in time in your life and changing the way you live.”
<<Special thanks to AHA intern Anne Nelson for help developing this advocate story>>