The American Heart Association (AHA) Oklahoma City office hosted their annual Sweethearts Day at the Capitol on March 1. This event is part of the annual Sweethearts program to develop future heart health advocates. 44 Oklahoma high school sophomore girls participated in trainings, lobby activities, and heard from various elected officials on the importance of heart health and advocacy.
The day began with an introduction by Terri Bailey, AHA Senior Director of Social Events, about the history and importance of the day. Chancen Flick, Government Relations Director, then gave a training on the legislative process, the issues that AHA were promoting at the state level, followed by a roleplaying exercise on speaking with elected officials. Allison Hogue, Affiliate Grassroots Director, addressed the Sweethearts on the use of social media to make an impact on legislative action.
The Sweethearts then had a photo opportunity with Governor Mary Fallin, who was kind enough to spend a few minutes on a busy election day to discuss the importance of public health and advocacy. Instead of a traditional Capitol tour, the Sweethearts participated in a ‘selfie scavenger hunt’ by finding key locations and artwork in the Capitol building, taking a selfie and posting to social media.
Representative Cyndi Munson spoke to the Sweethearts during the afternoon session. Munson, a Sweetheart alumni herself, addressed public health concerns and the need for young advocates to stand up and make a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens. The Sweethearts conducted office visits with members and staff of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The day closed with the 2016 Sweetheart Class being recognized by the Senate and receiving personal citations from their Senators in the Senate lounge thanking them for their service.