Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conroe Goes Smoke-Free, Waco Might Be Next

Earlier today the Conroe City Council voted in favor of going smoke-free! The ordinance that was passed unanimously will include all bars and restaurants and will give protection to thousands of workers, residents, and visitors of the community just north of Houston.

This is a big victory especially considering that just a few weeks ago all of the proposed ordinances included loopholes for many bars and restaurants. With the help of You’re the Cure volunteers in the area we were able to educate the City Council on the benefits of making all workplaces smoke-free. The Council heard our message and voted in favor up public health and workplace health!

Yesterday the Smoke-Free Waco coalition held a rally in front of City Hall to urge decision makers to make Waco the next smoke-free city.

The crowd heard from AHA Board Member and You’re the Cure advocate Jennifer Jenkins:

“Yet numerous studies of objective data, like sales tax receipts, show that going smoke-free does not adversely impact the hospitality industry; in fact, these businesses ultimately save money on health care costs, insurance, cleaning and other indirect costs of secondhand smoke.”

Do you live in a smoke-free city? If so, for how long and how are you enjoying it?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Support Smoke-Free Waco!

Tomorrow morning the Smoke-Free Coalition will meet in front of City Hall for a press conference asking the city council to make all workplaces smoke-free. If you are in the Waco area and would like to show your support please attend the event!

It is open to the public and your presence will help demonstrate the support that smoke-free air has:

When: 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 25
Where: Waco City Hall, 300 Austin Street

Right now we are trying to raise awareness and educate council members on this important issue. Stay tuned on further developments from Waco and how you can help.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PE & Health In Limbo As a Result of HB 3

This past session one of the issues that has made the most noise and will have a lasting impact on public schools this fall is the elimination of health education. House Bill 3 by State Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) and State Senator Florence Shapiro was a piece of legislation that was over 200 plus pages. This piece of legislation addressed the accountability of schools for the education of Texas students. One small section made a major difference in the balanced education of Texas students and will impact the struggle we continue to address with childhood obesity.

The bill included language to change the high school graduation requirements from 1.5 credits of physical education to 1.0 credits of physical education. At first there were no more requirements for physical education but thanks to the advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association and action by the You’re the Cure network we were able to restore at least 1.0 credits of physical education. Unfortunately, HB 3 also eliminated the health education requirement of 0.5 credits. Fine arts graduation requirement was expanded from 0.5 to 1.0 credit. The implementation of this graduation plan is to begin with the 2009-10 school year.

School districts may still set the requirements for high school graduation that they want their students to achieve. A district may require their students to take the number of credits of physical education and health education their school board and community want them to take. The state requirement is a minimum standard. School districts may require more for their students.

Currently there are still some regulatory efforts that are under consideration at the Texas State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency that the Advocacy Department will be addressing. Stay tuned as we unveil our Advocacy efforts at the regulatory level over the next few weeks to try and salvage what is left of physical and health education.

Former CEO speaks about obesity problem to educators

Former AHA CEO Cass Wheeler recently spoke to a group of high school PE teachers, coaches, and health educators at a Round Rock high school. His message was that they could help shape today's generation of youngsters and create healthier children. With a new state law that governs how much PE and Health is required for high school graduation teachers are preparing for the upcoming school year.

Here is Cass talking to the group of teachers:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Obesity remains No. 1 health problem for kids in 2009

Childhood obesity outranks all other health problems as the No. 1 health concern for children in the United States, topping drug abuse, smoking and bullying, according to a report by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

This is the first survey year in which obesity tops the list for Hispanics, blacks and whites. In the 2008 survey, childhood obesity was ranked 6th by Hispanics and 3rd by blacks as the biggest child health problem.

Kids and parents are encouraged to visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website for fun information and easy ways to improve your health.

But what do you think we can do to get kids more active?

Alliance recognized by CDC

Speaking of the Alliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with its “Pioneering Innovation Award” for advancing policies and environmental strategies to prevent and control obesity.

The award was presented July 29 at the CDC’s “Weight of the Nation” Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Alliance was founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to reduce childhood obesity by 2015 and empower children to make healthy lifestyle choices. The Alliance works to positively affect places that can make a difference in a child's health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctor's offices and communities.

Legislators Embark on their Homework Assignments

Now that the Texas Legislature has had a few months off and will more than likely not return until the 82nd Legislature in 2011, lawmakers will be receiving their homework assignments or “interim charges” over the next few months. This is a critical time for lawmakers, staff, regulatory players, and stakeholders to develop policy initiatives, study them, and provide reports and recommendations for the 82nd Legislature to consider.

The American Heart Association Advocacy team has been meeting with key offices and providing input on issues related to obesity, stroke, health disparities, and tobacco as interim charges are considered in both the House and the Senate. This means committee hearings will gear up soon and our volunteers will be testifying and meeting with lawmakers. Additionally, our grassroots network will be using this opportunity educate staff and lawmakers about our public health policies on these issues. Once these committees have the chance to discuss the various public health issues their committees will vote on recommendations to submit to the 82nd Legislature which will then turn in bills, budget request, and regulatory recommendation that our Advocacy staff will constantly monitor.

Stay tuned as alerts will begin in the next few weeks to lay the ground work for the 82nd Legislature.

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