Heart & Stroke Feature

Healthy, active living key message for 2017 campaign

Canvassers hitting the street this month for Heart and Stroke Foundation

Adam Prudhomme
Staff Reporter

Despite a handful of medical breakthroughs of the last decade, a troubling trend of inactivity and poor diet continues to contribute to the fact that every seven minutes a Canadian dies from heart disease or stroke.

That’s why this February volunteers with the Heart and Stroke Foundation will once again be going door to door not just canvassing for donations, but to spread heart-healthy information.

Lennox and Addington residents can expect to see a canvasser at their door anytime throughout the next month, clearly marked with a name tag. Last year the month-long campaign raised $270,000 across the region with $10.6 million raised across Canada.

“All of the money from canvassing in February goes directly to heart research,” said Jackie St. Pierre, area manager for the Kingston, Belleville and surrounding area Heart and Stroke Foundation office. “Because of the research that’s going on, we see up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented. So going door to door this month, not only are we canvassing to raise money for heart research, but we’re also presenting our risk assessment tool.”

The tool, which can be found on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s rebranded website (Heart and Stroke Foundation), has users fill out a five-minute survey which will in turn identify their health risks.

“Because of research we’ve seen a 75 per cent decrease in heart disease and stroke death,” added St. Pierre. “But today the threat of heart disease and stroke is more urgent due to our aging population and our rising obesity rates and diabetes.”

This year’s Heart and Stroke Month carries with it the theme of ‘Life: We Don’t Want You To Miss It’, which stresses how just a few small changes can greatly increase the chances of living longer. St. Pierre says the information that canvassers will be handing out this year will offer three steps to reducing the risk of heart disease: getting active, avoiding processed foods and cutting sugary drinks out of the diet.

The healthy tips were compiled with the help of this year’s honourary chair Dr. Roberta Bondar, a scientist, neurologist and best known as the first Canadian female in space.

“We go door to door and we help to raise money for heart research,” said St. Pierre. “But another piece of it is getting into people’s hands the information about the risk assessment tool. That’s huge for us.”

After last year’s success the local office has set a target goal of raising $312,000.

Anyone interested in canvassing for a few days next month can still sign up by calling 613-384-2871. Routes are still available. Volunteers don’t have to go door to door either, as they can choose to canvass amongst family, friends, community groups or church.

Heart and Stroke Month will be the start of a busy 2017 for the local office. In March they will also be hosting their Jump Rope for Heart events in local schools and the Big Bike event scheduled to take place in Napanee on June 10.