UNION — When it comes to fighting heart disease in women during Heart Awareness Month nobody was able to “paint the town red” better than the SCWorks Union office on Main Street in downtown Union.
February is Heart Awareness Month and the “Go Red for Women Passion Committee” and the American Heart Association urged 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.
Businesses and organizations in Union and throughout 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.
On Tuesday, Melissa Youngblood of the Go Red for Women Passion Committee announced that the SCWorks Union office had won the competition. She presented Union County Workforce Development Director Katherine Pendergrass with the office’s prize, a gift basket from the American Heart Association filled with heart healthy items.
Youngblood, known around Union as the face of The Union Connection Channel 192 and herself a heart attack survivor, discussed the Paint The Town Red project and how the SCWorks Union office won the competition.
“The Go Red for Women Passion Committee along with the American Heart Association decided to Paint The Town Red,” Youngblood said. “We recruited businesses in the Upstate to decorate their windows red for Heart Awareness. The symbol for Go Red is a red dress, and that’s what Katherine decided to put in her window.”
Youngblood said she subsequently took pictures of the businesses and other organizations — 15 in all — in Union that participated in the project. She said she then sent those pictures in to the American Heart Association to be judged. Not only did the SCWorks office win locally, Youngblood said it was the winner for the entire Upstate.
Pendergrass thanked Youngblood for the gift recognizing SCWorks as the winner of the Paint The Town Red project, adding that the campaign against heart disease is in line with the organization’s efforts to assist people in getting the jobs they need and the companies that create those jobs in getting the workers they need.
“Once we got the communication about what Melissa and her group were doing we jumped right in to this effort,” Pendergrasss said. “Our county Supervisor Frank Hart and Ann Angermeir, Executive Director of the Upstate Workforce Board, want this agency to do all we can do to have great job candidates for Union County businesses, so we took to Paint The Town Red right away.”
Pendegrass pointed out that being a good employee means taking overall good care of yourself so that you are able to do the job for which you are hired.
“We at SCWorks want to do our part in educating the public about those things that contribute to good health,” Pendergrass said. “As a whole, we want the people of Union County to take good care of themselves by exercising, eating right, and staying away from substance abuse. We want the people of Union County to be employed and to stay healthy.”
Pendergrass added that the idea for putting the dresses in the front windows of the office was first suggested by Trina Whiteside and Nikki Burgess and that Burgess spent a great deal of time doing the decorating.
In addition to red dresses and hearts, the front windows of the SCWorks Union office are also decorated with fliers providing information on heart disease, especially heart disease in women. Here are some 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.
• 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.