Welcome to the The WSA Exchange, for healthy hearts and minds. Kathy Rogers, American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Executive Vice President will share stories from across the affiliate.
Randy Ryan is the American Heart Association Teaching Gardens program manager in Los Angeles. The program fights childhood obesity by teaching children how to successfully grow, harvest and replant organic vegetable gardens in urban communities. There are over 350 Teaching Gardens in the United States. Randy is also a spokesperson for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, which helps combat veterans reintegrate back into society through farming.
Through Teaching Gardens, I have worked with many students from varying backgrounds. I see how the nutrition lessons learned in the garden influence many other aspects of school, service and home life. One student’s story in particular stands out in my mind. Now in high school, I have watched this young man evolve since he was in the seventh grade.
When I first met him in 2011, he was in middle school in South Los Angeles. I was warned by a teacher that he had behavior issues and a difficult home life. During our Teaching Gardens sessions, he was often disruptive to the class. Instead of reacting and scolding him in front of his classmates, I would ask that he go back into the indoor classroom while the rest of us gardened and learned in the outdoor classroom. This approach worked over time. He became less combative and more helpful, slowly sharing, working well with others and being respectful to everyone. He worked very hard, encouraged other students to join and took pride in the small garden.
At one point, there were irrigation problems at the site and he asked if he could help me figure them out after school. The Principal gave him permission and confided in me that school was his “safe” place and the longer he could stay, the better. So he helped. We talked. I got to know him a little better.
When he left middle school to go to high school, he ended up going to a school that also had a Teaching Garden. It is a large and complex garden program with over 20 boxes, a new orchard and has a functioning green house. I was thrilled to know that as he matured, he was moving on to a place that offered a more bountiful challenge for him. It is the perfect marriage.
Now on the honor roll, this student is a recipient of many school service awards. He has asked me write a letter of recommendation for his college application. I am happy to oblige.
He plans to be a landscape architect.
Our Teaching Gardens continue to thrive, provide support for other programs at AHA and lead to positive influences in some of our communities that need it the most.
Arizona Students are closer than ever to learning Hands Only CPR in Schools. Senate Bill 1137, sponsored by Senator Jeff Dial and championed by Representative Doug Coleman, is on the way to the House of Representatives for a final vote and then on to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Throughout the campaign, AHA volunteer Roxanne Coleman has been a fabulous supporter, including doing a PSA highlighting her own experience (password: aha) with Sudden Cardiac Arrest and CPR as a reason to support this bill. Our hardworking advocates and staff recruited and worked with the public to encourage them to speak at committee hearings and contact legislators to encourage support of this amazing bill. In addition, Arizona staff and volunteers have also faithfully been sending out media alerts helping to accomplish this lofty but important goal.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved!
Desert Pines High School received a visit from four executive chefs plus to executives from the Food & Beverage department from the Wynn Hotel, our sponsor of the 2016 TCWH competition. Each presenter shared different aspects about their roles and talked to them about the importance of healthy cooking, and how people are being more conscious about ingredients used when dining out. According to the chefs everything in the right portion is good, using healthy ingredients, prepared in a healthy way. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and directly interact with the guest presenters. The chef instructors were very involved in the presentations.
In another spot, Rancho High School had the opportunity to show off their skills at the Las Vegas local board meeting. Chef Instructor Phillip Dell presented the results from last year’s program while the students prepared a three course healthy dinner that was delicious and presented things learned with the TCWH program.
Over 300 Physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and EMS professionals met in Bozeman, Mont., to learn, share best practices, and plan for sustainability of the Montana STEMI System of Care.
We have recently made some BIG strides in the fight against heart disease in the state. During the conference, the American Heart Association shared that two years into a three year initiative there has been a 12 percent improvement in calling 911 in rural MT at the first sign of a heart attack. This figure is better than the national average!
The work that we have been able to do in Montana is thanks to a generous gift of $4.6 million from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, one of the nation’s largest foundations.