UNION — The businesses of Union are being asked to help “Paint The Town Red” in February to raise public awareness of a disease that that kills a woman every 80 seconds.
February is Heart Awareness Month and the “Go Red for Women Passion Committee” and the American Heart Association are urging businesses and other organizations to participate in the “Paint The Town Red” project. In Paint The Town Red, participants decorate their windows with red dresses and hearts throughout February to promote awareness of heart health issues, especially heart disease in women.
In 2017, businesses and organizaitons in Union County and the rest of the Upstate did just that and in addition to supporting a good cause, particpants were also entered into a contest to see which one did the best job painting the town red. One of the winners that year — the first year Union had participated in the event — was the SCWorks Union office — the first business or organization in Union to win the competition — whose staff decorated its windows with fliers about heart disease and heart attacks, red clothing items, and Go Red clings that are the symbol of the Go Red for Women Campaign to help promote awareness of the threat of heart disease in women. In winning the contest, the SCWorks office gained the title of “Best Go Red Window” and the staff was presented with a gift basket.
The businesses and organizations of Union County and the rest of the Upstate are again being asked to help promote public awareness of the threat heart disease poses to women by once again take part in this year’s Paint To The Town Red project this February.
Leading the local effort is Melissa Youngblood, known around Union as the face of The Union Connection Channel 192 and, this year, one of the 11 spokeswomen for 2017-18 Go Red for Women Campaign in the Upstate. A heart attack survivor herself, Youngblood spoke about the danger of heart disease in women and the importance of the Go Red for Women Campaign including Paint The Town Red.
“Statistics say a woman dies of heart disease every 80 seconds,” Youngblood said Thursday pointing to the following facts provided by the American Heart Association about women and heart disease:
• Heart disease and stroke kill one in three women in the U.S., yet 80 percent of cardievents may be prevented.
• Cardiovascular diseases and stroke kill around 16 women every day in South Carolina.
• An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. are affected by cardiovascular diseases.
• 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease, yet only one in five American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
• Women comprise only 24 percent of participants in all heart-related studies.
• Women are less likely to call 911 for themselves when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack than they are if someone else were having a heart attack.
• Only 36 percent of African-American women and 34 percent of Hispanic women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk, compared with 65 percent of Caucasian women.
Youngblood said that Paint The Town Red is part of the efforts of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign to increase those percentages by increasing awareness of the threat heart disease poses to women. She said that, as it did last year, the campaign is hoping to once again enlist local businesses and other organizations in the Paint The Town Red effort in February.
“This February is Heart Month and during that month we want to ‘Paint The Town Red’ in several ways,” Youngblood said. “We’re looking for businesses who will volunteer to either place a red dress cling in their windows or decorate their windows using their own creativity for a chance to win ‘Best Go Red Window.’”
Youngblood said that another of the several ways to Paint The Town Red involves restaurants while another way is something anyone can do on February 2 when everyone is encouraged to wear red.
“If it (the participating business) is a restaurant, they can make a heart healthy meal on February 2 and serve it,” Youngblood said. “That (February 2) is National Wear Red Day and on that day we want everybody in Union County to wear red. We want them to send us a picture of them in red. That’s everybody from sports teams and cheerleaders and other students to churches, businesses and staffs, everybody.”
Youngblood added that if those who wear red on February 2 put their photos of themselves in their red clothes on social media, the campaign has two hashtags for them to refer to: #goredunionsc and #goredupstate.
As for why people are urged to wear red, paint their town red, and get involved in the Go Red For Women Campaign, Youngblood said it’s because “wearing red symbolizes in memory or in honor those affected by heart disease or stroke.”
While the focus of Paint The Town Red are business storefronts in downtown Union and other retail locations, Youngblood said all are welcome to participate and to receive a Red Dress cling.
“We are trying for highly visible storefronts such as downtown businesses and busy retail areas, but we welcome everyone to participate and everyone will be judged if they want to,” Youngblood said. “The national symbol for Go Red For Women is a red dress so we will be ordering Red Dress clings to place in the windows of the businesses that will be participating.”
Youngblood added that the clings are easy to apply, just peel off the backing and apply them to your window.
Businesses and organizations that want to receive a Red Dress cling to place in their window need to apply for them by Monday, Jan. 15 so Go Red For Women can get them ordered and delivered before February. To apply for a cling, contact the American Heart Association at 864-605-7223 or contact Melissa Youngblood at 429-1702 or 426-5008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youngblood said that even if they don’t order a Red Dress cling, businesses and organizations can still take part in Paint the Town Red by creating their own displays for their storefronts.
Finally, while everyone is urged to take part in the effort to raise awareness of the danger heart disease poses for women, women are especially encouraged to get involved with Go Red for Women for two very good reasons provided by the American Heart Association:
• Women involved with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement live healthier lives, and nearly 90 percent have made at least one healthy behavior change.
• Go Red for Women encourages women to take charge of their health and schedule a wellness visit to learn about health status and risk for diseases:
Get your numbers — ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
Own your lifestyle — stop smoking, lose weight, be physically active and eat healthy.
Raise your voice — advocate for more women-related research and education.
Educate your family — make healthy food choices for you and your family, and teach your kids the importance of staying active.
Donate — show your support with a donation of time or money.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.