TIPS AND TIMELINE
Women's Heart Week
- At least 6 months in advance, you will need to decide on a special event and secure the location
- Announce the event with SAVE THE DATE through regular employee channels such as public address systems, email and employee newsletters.
- Photocopy flyers on colored paper. Post flyers throughout the workplace... break rooms, elevators, bathrooms and bulletin boards.
- Ask area health and fitness centers or sports centers to donate small prizes for drawings and promote the event through these added incentives.
- Check with your company for additional raffle prizes, gift certificates or other incentives for participants.
- Spice it up with contests like a "Know Your Numbers" game
or a "Smoke-out" campaign with prizes.
- Seek support from the president of your company and other key personnel.
- Ask the president to send a memo endorsing the event and encouraging participation.
- Ask the president and supervisors to personally participate in the biggest event.
- Ask supervisors to spread the word.
- Encourage employees interested in women's heart health issues to set up a planning committee for the event.
- Present short promotional announcements at employee or staff meetings.
- Plan your purchases for Women's Heart Week.
Timeline for Success
November - December:
- Gain upper management support for conducting a health outreach.
- Choose health topics. Pick 2 - 3 topics that you want covered to celebrate Women's Heart Week.
- Choose at least 2 activities.
- Think about your employees. Who could serve as an event chair? Who would make
a good guest speaker? What resources are there available to you in-house? Are there
any employees who would especially benefit from holding a contest to quit smoking?
What about a contest for reaching exercise goals? Would women enjoy an obstacle course
to mock their daily hectic routine?
- Delegate one person to work with the local business community on obtaining
- Delegate one person to prepare all posters and promotional materials.
- Delegate one person to work on getting the information out there. Track how
many pieces of health education materials are being dispensed and which groups
are benefiting the most. Which informational guides do people like and which
ones do they not like? Which employees were best at reaching large numbers of
people in the community?
- Ask yourself “How many people can I reach with this life-saving information?
Would others be willing to reach out to their communities? What must I do to
make sure this program is a success?”
First Week in January
- Appoint and meet with designated chairs in each department. Discuss objectives
and goals. Have each chairperson recruit 2 or 3 committee members from their
- Contact outside speakers.
- Order educational materials if you haven't done so already.
- Plan strategic places for locating posters and banners to educate and to announce
- Order any food items or incentives.
- Order Heart Walk Tee Shirts, if applicable.
- Prepare memos to announce the event.
Second Week in January
- Contact local officials. Ask for their support in the way of a public proclamation
announcing Women's Heart Week. Tell them about your planned events and activities a
nd how many people in your company will be served by this educational outreach to
help individuals make healthy lifestyle changes. Mention how many women are in the
company who will be helped by this information.
- Prepare and send press releases. Include a photograph of committee chairs with
the company CEO and what you hope to accomplish with this outreach. Don't forget to
mention those business people who are sponsoring the event by speaking at your event
or by donation of goods or prizes.
- Meet with committees to assign tasks.
- Designate a bulletin board to showcase activities and educational message.
- Plan for a different paycheck stuffer for the next three pay periods, using WHF
educational brochures/Healthy Heart Guides. Include a brief note from the CEO
as to why this is important information.
Third Week in January
- Post sign-up sheets for events.
- Send a poster to each department for display. List incentives and prizes on
- Photocopy educational materials needed for outreach (those located in the
addendum section with permission granted to reproduce).
- Meet with committees to ensure that assigned tasks are being completed.
- Check on “loose ends”.
- Begin setting up for the event (tables, videos, speaker systems, lighting, easels).
- Send out your first memo, telling employees of the event, why it is being held,
commemorative activities and prizes and how they can participate (where sign-
up sheets are located and contest rules to receive prizes.)
- Finish what you started.
- Send out your second memo.
- Empower your employees. Encourage them to reach out into the community with
vital heart health information. Keep track of copies made and numbers served
Fourth Week in January
- Arrange for heart health information to be available on an education table all
- Arrange for a public official to participate in the event to draw attention to the health
problems faced by women with cardiovascular disease.
- Encourage sign-ups for next week’s events.
- Hold events
- Arrange for public presentation of proclamations.
- Publicly recognize those individuals, corporations and health centers contributing to this special outreach week.
- Announce winners” of prizes.
- Send out thank you notes to community business people who donated time or
- Hold an after-event committee meeting. Recognize employees who contributed
to the success of this program . List names and specifics in the employee
- Send out a post-event memo, telling of numbers served and thanking all who
contributed. Make special mention of those business persons who donated items or time.
- Fax post-event evaluation form to the Women’s Heart Foundation.
Suggested Activity: “Quit & Win” Smoking Cessation Contest
“Quit and Win” is a contest with prizes for those
who want to quit smoking
Suggested handouts (available at pdf health library page):
- Questionnaire “Are you Ready to Quit?”
- “Get Smart About Smoking” Guide
- “Quitting Smoking - A Self-Paced Guide”
- Nutrition and Exercise Log
Hold a “QUIT and WIN” contest to help people who want to stop smoking do so
on their own. It’s a strategy that has been successful at reducing community-wide
risk of smoking through motivation, incentives and education.
First, decide on your target audience. Will this be a community-wide contest sponsored
by your organization or a company event? Decide on a date. Any time is fine, but you
may want the “start date” to coincide with Women’s Heart Week and the “end date”
to announce winners in November, to coincide with the “Great American Smoke-Out” ( observed
annually the 3rd Thursday in November to celebrate a smoke-free environment.
Second, solicit for prizes. Seek donations from community businesses. Suggested prizes
may be tickets for four to the zoo, dinner for two, 4 free car washes, promotional tickets
to an area event, movie tickets, a pair of running shoes, $20 in cash, a day off from work––
anything that serves as a reward.
Third, decide on the rules and map out your meetings. Determine the best method to monitor
if a person has successfully abstained from smoking (the Honor System is easiest to employ).
To attract group members, assign a PR person to publicize the contest with prizes in the
company newsletter or local paper. Plan for 3-4 meetings at about two-week intervals,
lasting approximately 1 1/2 -2 hours each. How many persons should be in the group?
6-8 is ideal but a larger group is fine too and may be more fun since there are prizes
at stake. Follow the suggested agenda below:
Introductions and orientation to the WHF smoking cessation program. Review
Quitting Smoking - A Self-Paced Guide. Explain to the group that this program is 3 meetings
long and that success depends largely upon each individual's willingness to make behavior
changes and deal with cravings. Everyone should already be trying to cut back on the number
of cigarettes smoked each day and paying attention to trigger situations. Show a video on
successful ex-smokers and how they were able to quit. Ask everyone to commit to a quit date
today by signing “My Commitment to Better Health” (from the Get Smart about Smoking Guide).
Strongly encourage each participant to start an exercise program - with the approval of
their family doctor. Exercise is a useful distraction from cigarette smoking. Tell the
group that they should bring their self-paced guide to the next meeting and have it
partially completed. Discuss possible weight gain. Encourage use of the 2-day nutrition
and exercise log.
Discuss how each member is following his or her self-paced Guide. Ask members
to share how they are dealing with cravings. Remind the group about confidentiality. Ask
everyone in the group to complete the Smoking Quiz, then use the Confidence Rating Scale
below to test level of commitment and predict success. (Keep a record of everyone's rating
to see if it matches those who were successful at quitting. Use a telephonic support
record to log progress).
C o n f i d e n c e R a t i n g S c a l e
|unwilling to change /
||somewhat willing /
||seriously considering change /
||I think I can do it. /
||I know I will do it!
Give members the tools to manage stress. Remind them about nicotine patches that are
now available over-the-counter. Suggest that each work with their doctor for additional
support and to approve the patches. Reinforce the immediate positive health benefits
from quitting. You may want to serve some herbal teas as this may help individuals
relax and help keep their hands occupied. Have everyone identify a support person they
can call upon if they feel cravings. If possible, arrange for a blood pressure and pulse
screening. Monitor withdrawal symptoms which are both physical and psychological.
Let members know that mood swings, irritability and personality changes are normal
symptoms during the first three weeks and will soon pass. Encourage members to continue
with their exercise program, if medically approved, as this serves as a distraction
and can help reduce stress. Offer a demonstration on yoga. Have members participate.
Make this an experiential meeting. Promote incentive prizes. Tell the group about
the final meeting and what to expect.
Ask how many persons in the group have succeeded in not smoking for
the past four weeks. Announce winners and distribute prizes. Encourage others to
continue to try to quit smoking. Encourage each member to follow-up with their doctor
or health insurance company for additional help and support. Remind everyone that it
usually takes 4- 6 quit attempts before being successful. Mention the date of the
next QUIT and WIN contest. Celebrate successes. Serve up a congratulatory cake for
the group. Even just trying to quit is a winning decision. Ask the group if you may
contact them several times over the next few months to see how they are doing with
quitting and to offer encouragement. Try to make everyone feel rewarded in their
efforts to quit and their commitment to better health.
Smokers should be encouraged by the immediate health benefits of quitting.
- Within 12 hours, your body has already started to heal. The level of carbon monoxide in your system begins to
decline and as the oxygen level in your blood increases to normal, your heart and lungs start their repair work.
- Within 24 hours, your chances of having a heart attack
- Within 48 hours the nerve endings that have been stunted start to re-grow and
the the ability to smell and taste begins to return at this point.
- Within 72 hours, bronchial tubes relax and breathing is noticeably eased. Your
lung capacity has already increased.
From the second smoke-free week into the third month, your whole circulatory system improves. Walking becomes easier and lung function
increases up to 20%. In the first year after stopping smoking, the risk of coronary
heart disease drops sharply and gradually returns to the same risk as someone
who never smoked.
Additional Resources and Bibliography
- Coping with Heart Surgery and Bypassing Depression, by Carol Cohan, M.A., June Pimm, Ph. D. and James R. Jude, M.D., published by Psychosocial Press
- Dean Ornishes's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, by Dean Ornish, M.D. published by Ballantine Books
- Full Catastrophic Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Healing the Female Heart, by Elizabeth Ross, M.D. and Judith Sachs, published by Pocketbooks
- Heartmates, by Rhoda F. Levin, published by Prentice Hall Press
- Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “Information for Enlightened Choices from Harvard Medical School”.
For subscription information, write to Harvard Women's Health Watch, P.O. Box 420068, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0068 or call 1-800-829-5921
- In a Different Voice: Psychological Therapy and Women’s Development, by C. Gilligan, Harvard University Press, 1982, Cambridge, MA
- Mitral Valve Prolapse: Benign Syndrome?, by Sharon Anderson, published by Wellington Press
- Passages, by Gail Sheehy
- “The Mediterranean Diet: A Better Way to Eat?”, Consumer Reports, Vol. 6,No.11, Nov 1994
- The McDoughall Program for a Healthy Heart, by John A. McDougall, M.D. (see chapter on Women and Heart Disease, addressing sources of calcium), published by Dutton Books
- Our Health Our Lives, by Eileen Hoffman, M.D.
- Perfect Health, by Deepak Chopra, M.D., published by Harmony Books
- The Female Heart: The Truth About Women and Coronary Artery Disease, by Carol Colman and Marianne J. Legato, M.D., published by Simon & Schuster
- The Silent Passage, by Gail Sheehy
- The Woman’s Book of Life, by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., published by Riverhead Books
- The Woman’s Heart Book, by Frederick J. Pashkow, M.D. and Charlotte Libov, published by Dutton
- The Women’s Health Advocate Newsletter. For subscription information: PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. 1-800-829-5876