Aniston Barnette leads CPR education initiative as American Heart Association's National Teen of Impact

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The American Heart Association's National Teen of Impact title offers Gen Z changemakers an influential platform to fight against heart disease to improve health and well-being in communities across the country. This year, Aniston Barnette, a 16-year-old volunteer advocate from Bristol, Tenn., is the 2024 national winner. As a prominent student-athlete, Barnette is supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Heart Association – celebrating one hundred years of lifesaving service – by promoting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) awareness and education.

After watching family members suffer and die from heart disease, Barnette decided to take personal action by joining the Association's Teen of Impact initiative in her Tennessee hometown. She became CPR-certified and has since actively advocated for the heart health of her generation. Barnette, one of 142 nominees selected from 34 communities nationwide, worked at a grassroots level to raise funds, educate others in Hands-Only CPR and work with her local hospital system to inspire the next generation to live longer and healthier.

Aniston Barnette, as well as all participants of the nationwide Teen of Impact initiative, are remarkable young people who are driving tangible change and saving lives in communities across the nation,. Aniston's passion, dedication and advocacy are great examples of what relentless qualities it has taken to drive improvements and outcomes for the Association in the past century. At the American Heart Association, our future is about improving yours with the support of volunteers like our Teens of Impact."

Marsha E. Jones, American Heart Association volunteer board chair and former executive vice president and chief diversity officer for The PNC Financial Services Group

"Embracing this opportunity was a natural choice," Barnette said. "As a student-athlete, the jarring statistic that cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for student-athletes compelled me to get involved with Teen of Impact. Raising critical funds for research and education and leading Hands-Only CPR activities in my community was incredible. But there is more work to be done. I look forward to advocating for CPR education and access to AEDs in schools to ensure the next generation-;my peers-;become part of a Nation of Lifesavers and know what to do in the event of a cardiac emergency."

As the 2024 National Teen of Impact Winner, Barnette will join dozens of other volunteers from the Association at the United States Capitol on May 23 to meet with members of Congress to talk about lifesaving policies to increase access and funding for CPR education, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and cardiac emergency response plans in primary and secondary schools across the nation. She will be asking for support of the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act. The Act would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to schools partnered with a nonprofit health care organization to develop and implement a comprehensive program to improve the chain of survival in the event of a cardiac emergency.

This year's annual Teen of Impact campaign launched on National Wear Red Day®, Feb. 2, and culminated on April 4. Participants were nominated by the Association's nationwide network of peer volunteers to participate in the nine-week initiative where they took action to improve lives across the nation while raising funds for the Association's mission. For more information about the Teen of Impact campaign and the American Heart Association's lifesaving mission, visit teenofimpact.heart.org.

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