Last month, I discussed specific legislation AHA is working on; Healthy School Meals for All and Heart Attack Facility Designation. This update, I want to talk more about how you, dear reader, can help American Heart Association be successful in our lifesaving work at the policy and advocacy level. Let’s start by what you don’t have to be. You don’t have to be a doctor. You don’t have to be a professional lobbyist. You don’t have to be an issue expert. We are fortunate to have all those things. But what you bring is something much different and equally important. You have lived experience, you have an area of expertise, you have a story to tell, maybe a skill or time to share. This is what separates the work of a paid employee from the work of building the community and movement necessary to make long lasting change.
hero_image_alt_text===A picture of the Utah state capitol building
thumbnail_alt_text===A picture of the Utah state capitol building
Often advocacy gets conflated with lobbying, but they are two very different things. Advocacy is about education on a specific issue, while lobbying is specifically trying to influence local, state, or federal policy. Advocacy can include specific events, such as rally or demonstration, tabling at an event, or working with media channels through an Op-Ed, Letter to the Editor, or meeting with an editorial board to get them to take a stance on an issue. It can also include signing a petition, or venture further into lobbying territory, such as submitting verbal or written comment during a legislative or regulatory process. If you are legally unable to participate in lobbying, if you’re an employee of the state for example, you can still utilize your expertise and network to help educate decision makers.
In the upcoming months, the AHA will host several events geared towards advocacy and lobbying, and I want to emphasize the variety of roles that are open to anyone who cares about our issues, whether it’s heart health, tobacco, access to care, nutrition, or healthy and active living.
In mid-January, we will host an online lobby and advocacy training specific to upcoming issue area. This is open to all and will be held in the evening virtually to maximize convenience.
On Tuesday, February 13th, Heart on the Hill Lobby Day will bring AHA staff, volunteers, and you up to the Utah State Capitol to specifically lobby on our legislative priorities. Look forward to more information about both of these events to be posted on You’re the Cure.