On June 30, 2016, Dr. Carol Barnes ended her second term as Mississippi Advocacy Committee Chair.
Below is a personal message from Dr. Barnes:
It has been such a pleasure to chair the American Heart Association’s Mississippi Advocacy Committee for the past two years. Working in the field of health and kinesiology has opened my eyes to the issues that we face in our society today. We live in a time where we have numerous opportunities to become the healthiest nation and enjoy great quality of life, yet we find ourselves facing so many issues related to poor health.
When I first started volunteering with the American Heart Association, I was very surprised by the number of issues that they deal with daily; issues that are important to providing our society with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. In May 2015, I traveled to Washington D.C. as a You’re the Cure advocate to help improve our overall health.
One issue that is very important to me and our future generation is healthy school meals. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act which was reauthorized in 2010 provides funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, increasing the access to healthy food, and promoting overall wellness. As a result, children are eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruits on a daily basis, and over 90 percent of schools are meeting all the standards nationwide.
Another issue that is significant to improving the health of our citizens is smoke-free air. Katherine Bryant, American Heart Association Mississippi Government Relations Director, and staff have worked tirelessly to promote a smoke-free Mississippi. It has been determined that 68 percent of the voters in Mississippi support smoke free legislation! It is time to give the people what they want and let our legislators know about this. The healthcare cost savings is so significant from this one piece of legislation. Within a few years after Hattiesburg passed a smoke-free ordinance, they reported a savings of $2,367,909 in healthcare cost in their city alone.
One last policy change that has occurred over the past two years is that the nation has realized the importance of increasing National Institute of Health (NIH) funding, This increase will help the NIH continue to provide the latest research results in finding a cure and treating life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. In 2016, lawmakers approved a $2 million boost in funding for 2017; this is so crucial in helping our nation to find a cure and provide better quality of life for our citizens for years to come.
I urge you to continue volunteering with American Heart Association and doing your part to make a difference in the health status of our citizens for years to come. I am very grateful that I have had this opportunity.