Here at the American Heart Association, Life is Why we work to eliminate heart disease and stroke. You're the Cure Advocates are Why we are able to create healthier lives and communities through policy change!
On Saturday, November 14, seventeen You’re the Cure volunteers from all over North Texas gathered in Fort Worth for the first ever SouthWest Affiliate Regional Advocate Summit. The theme of the Summit was “Part of the Puzzle,” because each volunteer's personal story fits into the advocacy puzzle! By meeting other volunteers, sharing their stories, and becoming more familiar with the You're the Cure network, advocates gained skills to help the AHA accomplish our mission and make a difference in helping to fight heart disease and stroke in their communities.
The day started off with volunteers sharing their stories, thanks to State Advocacy Committee member Amanda Salinas leading a Life is Why photo puzzle activity. Next, volunteer leaders and staff provided the policy framework for those personal stories. Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Grassroots Director Victoria Nelson introduced the AHA's public policy portfolio in Texas, State Advocacy Committee member Connie Kerr led a discussion about smoke-free community efforts in North Texas, and Voices for Healthy Kids Texas Campaign Specialist Stephanie Haskell Blade taught the advocates about statewide healthy food access initiatives. Then, Senior Grassroots Director Vanessa Fuentes led a virtual tour of You're the Cure and challenged advocates to take their activism to the next level and move up the ranks by taking action, such as authoring letters to the editor or providing testimony at legislative meetings! Finally, Arkansas Grassroots Manager Allison Hogue, a special guest for the day, led a media advocacy discussion and invited volunteers to share lessons about engaging with lawmakers, before everyone practiced answering tricky questions about healthy food access. The key was sticking to their Why!
Thank you to the following volunteers for attending: State Advocacy Committee members Connie Kerr, Amanda Salinas, and Tim Hauter; Grassroots Action Team member Laura Mitchell; and Chandra Ellis, Francisca Trevino, Tammy McKinney, Amanda Denton, Jack Denton, Sydney Tilger, Saida Santiago, Toya Norton, Laura De Hoyos, Wesley Trammel, Debra McKnight, Nancy Healey, and Towry Barnard. Everyone left excited to be involved more deeply with You’re the Cure! This would not have been possible without Vanessa Fuentes, Stephanie Haskell Blade, Allison Hogue, Senior Director of Policy Campaigns Christopher Roller, and Texas Senior Government Relations Director Kaitlyn Murphy.
The You're the Cure community is all about giving you, our advocates, the tools you need to raise your voice to fight heart disease and stroke in your communities. The North Texas Advocate Summit was a great opportunity for us to do so, and to get to know you better too! Stay tuned for more of these Summits in Texas.