American Heart Association launches EmPOWERED to Serve in Boston

An American Heart Association program that seeks to improve health outcomes and reduce the gap in health disparities in multicultural communities kicked off in Boston on Thursday.

As part of the EmPOWERED to Serve program, the American Heart Association recruited local health ambassadors to help spread awareness about heart disease, stroke and the importance of a healthy lifestyle to various communities in Boston.

Amir Dixon, artist in residence at Medicine Wheel Productions

Nine organizations were selected to serve as local ambassadors. One of those organizations, Medicine Wheel Productions, a Boston non-profit that uses art to educate young people from across the city, held its first virtual training today that focused on teaching CPR.

About 20 young people who were referred to Medicine Wheel through the Department of Youth Services, received online training in this lifesaving skill, said Lawrence Vinson, a community impact director for the American Heart Association in Boston.

The training, which was led by Amir Dixon, Medicine Wheel’s artist in residence, will also be made available to the organization’s wider community following the virtual event, said Vinson.

CPR is part of the EmPowered to Serve training because studies have shown that Black children who live in poor neighborhoods are significantly less likely to receive bystander CPR during a cardiac arrest than white children. The results show a critical need to teach CPR in low-income, non-white, lower-education neighborhoods.

Boston’s EmPOWERED to Serve programming was made possible through the financial support of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge-based biotech company. Alnylam’s president, Barry Greene, is a strong proponent of working with community partners to address social determinants of health in Greater Boston.

Barry Greene, president of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

“Communities need localized solutions,” said Greene, who is also the chairman of the American Heart Association’s Boston Heart and Stroke Ball. “No one knows the challenges needed in a community as well as the members themselves.”

Medicine Wheel Productions will do a second CPR training on Saturday, June 27, during Pride is to Resist. Pride is to Resist is a day-long, virtual event that will bring together Boston’s Black and Latinx LGBTQ community to access resources, grow skills and organize toward advancing racial and health equity in Boston.

To learn more about Pride is to Resist, visit

Here is the list of organizations who will be serving as EmPOWERED to Serve Ambassadors in Boston:

  • Transgender Emergency Fund of MA Inc., is a nonprofit that works with transgender men and women assisting with homelessness prevention, shelter assistance, nutrition assistance, prescription co-pay assistance, transportation/escort to medical appointments, etc.
  • BCYF Perkins Community Center, BCYF Perkins programs include adult and youth basketball and swim lessons. BCYF’s network of community centers offer a wide range of diverse features and programs that are as unique as the neighborhoods they serve.
  • Call For Action, a nonprofit organization servicing the Latinx communities in Boston
  • Codman Square Health Center, a federally qualified health center, Codman Square Health Center is a community-based, outpatient health care and multi-service center in the heart of Dorchester.
  • Food for the World, Inc., a food pantry with health programs, wellness information, advocacy, job training and related support services to insure and inspire healthier, happier and more stable communities in Lawrence, the Merrimack Valley and Essex County.
  • Heart of a Giant, a foundation dedicated to amplifying patient voices to improve their heart health and vitality, as well as improving the quality of medical decisions and guidelines through better patient education and greater patient involvement.
  • Medicine Wheel Productions, a nonprofit organization that strives to move beyond diversity to inclusion, building the community from the inside out, using art as the threshold.
  • Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, is a non-profit housing and human service organization that was founded by residents of the neighborhood in 1969.
  • South End Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center committed to providing the highest quality, coordinated health care that is culturally and linguistically sensitive to every patient, regardless of ability to pay.
  • YMCA (South Shore)