Whiz Kids: Students Advocate for the American Heart Association in D.C.

Sarah and Shelby Pierson spent time in Washington talking to legislators about adopting programs concerning children's physical fitness and heart disease in the United States.

Name, age: Sarah Pierson, 14, Shelby Pierson, 11


Achievement: Sarah and Shelby served as one of the 25 youth advocates at the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure on the Hill in Washington D.C., where they advocated for items that encouraged students to be physically fit.

Key to Awesomeness: The Pierson family has been directly affected by heart disease.

"Heart disease runs in our family," Sarah said. "My grandfather and his father have been affected by it."

Since, the American Heart Association addresses issues of heart disease and healthy living, the sibling duo jumped on board as American Heart Association advocates.

Sarah advocated on behalf of all students to ask legislators to become co-sponsors of FITkids bill which would require high quality and daily physical education in all schools across the nation.

Her younger sister, Shelby, advocated for the Safe Routes to Schools program which would provide safe routes for students to walk and bike up to a mile to and from school in New York State so that they can increase the amount of time they spend being physically active.

On the first day of You’re the Cure, Shelby and Sarah learned how to be successful youth advocates before they met with legislators the next day.

"In the workshop we learned what is going to be like to talk to all the people," Shelby said. "We learned speaking skills."

“We learned to effectively communicate with members of the Senate," Sarah added.

On the second day, the girls met with the staff of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, , and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel and worked with Star Jones, former co-host of The View, to meet with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand and staff.

Both Shelby and Sarah were successful in using their new advocacy knowledge and calling upon their public speaking skills when presenting their issues to the legislative staff.

“We meet with Senator Gillibrand and it was great to meet her because I remember learning about her in social studies last year,” Sarah said.

Gillibrand agreed to co-sponsor the FITKid legislation after meeting with Jones and the girls.

Gillibrand “is very intelligent," Shelby said. "She is a very good listener. Right after we stopped talking she agreed to do the FITkids legislation.”

The two sisters proved to be stand-out citizens and role models for their peers.

“It was a really good experience so I hope we get to do it again,” Shelby said.


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