Our fiscal year at the American Heart Association recently wrapped up and we are excited to celebrate several policy victories in Rhode Island!
Our fiscal year at the American Heart Association recently wrapped up and we are excited to celebrate several victories in Rhode Island!
We started off strong last August when Governor Raimondo signed into law our bill updating the nutrition standards for snacks and beverages sold in schools. Last November, we worked with partners in the environmental community to win overwhelming voter approval of the Green Economy Bond that provided $35 million for walking paths and bikeways, local recreation grants and state parks. In February, Central Falls became the first local government in Rhode Island to increase the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21 – followed by Barrington in June – and our state Tobacco 21 campaign also got underway. We finally got our healthy school marketing bill through the House after hitting a brick wall for two years (the bill was awaiting Senate action when session came to an abrupt halt due to the budget impasse). We launched an ambitious sugary drinks tax campaign that brought attention to the important issue of reducing sugary drink consumption. And, we worked with the RI Stroke Task Force to update the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act to include an Acute Stroke Ready (ASR) designation for hospitals. We now have a 3-tier system of care for stroke patients that includes comprehensive and primary stroke centers and ASR hospitals, ensuring rapid access to timely treatment.
In addition to our policy victories, we were very excited to engage youth in our advocacy campaigns. As we work on policies at the State House that impact children’s health, we wanted to take an extra step to get kids involved because their voice can inspire change! Nearly 6,000 students (grades K-5) from across the state participated in our annual Get Healthy Poster Contest (sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of RI, in partnership with the RI Foundation). Kids drew pictures of their favorite healthy food and favorite physical activity – posters were displayed at the State House to help educate lawmakers about the importance of supporting policies that increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in the Ocean State. We also partnered with Young Voices, NAACP Providence, Progreso Latino and Oasis International to engage their youth leaders in our campaigns. We provided advocacy trainings and hosted a Youth Day at the State House where students shared their personal stories with lawmakers. Lastly, we partnered with Tobacco Free RI and the Department of Health to organize a “Zombie Walk” where 150 teens dressed as zombies marched on the State House to demonstrate the deadly effects of tobacco use and to call on lawmakers to support #Tobacco21RI.
If you have any questions or would like to get more involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact Megan Tucker, Senior Director of Government Relations, at (401) 228-2331 or [email protected].