BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Red Couch, the brainchild of two local American Heart Association volunteers, returns to Birmingham this February to raise awareness around cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The tour is one of several ways the American Heart Association (AHA) hopes to shine a light on heart disease – the No. 1 killer of men and women in America – during the month. The organization will focus on educating women about their risk factors; since studies indicate only one in five women can identify heart disease as their primary health threat. That statistic inspired the organization to launch its Go Red For Women campaign 11 years ago.
Since that time, AHA research has indicated that women who commit to Go Red are making healthier lifestyle decisions. As many as 60 percent of women involved in the campaign have improved their diet, more than 40 percent have checked their cholesterol levels, about a third have lost weight and over 50 percent have increased their level of physical activity.
Statistics indicate a drop in cardiovascular disease mortality, as well. Since 2003, 330 fewer women are dying each day from heart disease or stroke.
Raising awareness with the Red Couch
This year’s Red Couch tour will look a little different than it did last year.
Three local Go Red For Women sponsors will each host the famed red sofa for one week during the month and the local AHA office will claim ownership for the remaining week. The sponsor companies will be competing to see who can generate the most buzz and engage the most people during their designated Couch times.
St. Vincent’s Health System – the top local sponsor of Go Red For Women – will host the Couch tour during the first week of February; Regions Financial will claim the second week and Alabama Power will host during the fourth week of the month. Local AHA staff and volunteers will tour with the Couch during the third week of February.
Updated tour stops, photos and information will be posted at FollowThatCouch.com and on the @HeartAlabama Twitter feed. Those wishing to interact via social media can do so using the #FollowThatCouch hashtag.
The original idea for the Red Couch tour was conceived in late 2012 by AHA volunteers Bethanne Jenkins and Whitney Massey. They envisioned a traveling conversation piece aimed at creating awareness for women about heart disease and its risk factors. During the inaugural tour last year, the Couch made 19 stops around the Birmingham metropolitan area and drew thousands of curious on-lookers.
This year, in addition to a new tour schedule, the Red Couch also has a new look. Lesley Delchamps, a creative consultant for Alabama Media Group, created a new logo and infographics ahead of this year’s campaign.
“Taste of Life,” National Wear Red Day happening Feb. 7
The 11th year of Go Red For Women officially begins on Feb. 7, which is National Wear Red Day. On this global health holiday, everyone is encouraged to wear something red to help raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
In Birmingham, Wear Red Day will be celebrated with a special event called “Taste of Life.” Created and organized by local AHA volunteers, this event will be held at the Summit Club in downtown Birmingham between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Local chefs from DoDiYos, La Dolce Vita and other local restaurants will be on-site, preparing samples of their signature dishes. In addition, the Summit Club’s restaurant will be offering heart-healthy menu options. St. Vincent’s Health System will be conducting a basic heart health screening.
“Taste of Life” is free and open to the public.