The American Heart Association Philadelphia is proud to recognize Councilmember Blondell Reynolds-Brown with the Lifetime Champion of Health Equity Award. Councilmember Reynolds-Brown is the first to receive this recognition from the American Heart Association’s Southeastern PA Board of Directors, and we are thrilled to be able to honor her legacy in this way.
For the past 94 years, the American Heart Association has been on the front line in the fight against heart disease and stroke and we have made some very significant advancements in prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Funding provided by the AHA has led to the lifesaving medical discoveries that have given more people more time to live happy, healthy lives. But sadly, it’s not enough.
Heart disease remains the #1 killer of people across the globe, and Philadelphians suffer the highest rates of premature death from cardiovascular disease than any other large city in the country. There is a 20-year life expectancy difference between residents living in Center City as compared to our neighbors in North, West and Southwest Philadelphia.
Sadly, these drastic disparities in life expectancy and health outcomes are due in large part to the lack of basic needs, like access to healthy food and healthcare, as well as environmental and social barriers, such as neighborhood trauma, poverty and housing concerns.
These are complex issues with no simple solutions, and the American Heart Association has only been able to begin to address these issues with the help of leaders like Councilmember Reynolds-Brown.
A Robert Wood Johnson fellow, Councilmember Reynolds-Brown’s proactive approach to public health legislation has shaped the way families make healthy decisions.
In her 5 terms, she has been a leading voice on the importance of preventative policies that improve health outcomes for the next generation of Philadelphians, and her impact has been profound.
These policies include:
- Menu labeling to prioritize healthy food items at restaurants and fast food chains,
- Sodium warning labels to educate the public about menu items containing excessive amounts of sodium,
- The Philadelphia Beverage Tax to help families prioritize healthier beverage options and fund positive development across the city,
- And Healthy Kids Meals legislation that puts healthier drink options in front of families.
Her work has directly impacted Philadelphians, giving them healthier options while eating out and reducing young people’s consumption of unhealthy sugary drinks by 10 percent.
Councilmember Reynolds-Brown is known for her ability to build diverse coalitions and bridges with community groups, non-profits, small business owners, and major corporations. This unique ability has led to significant investments in our city, like the $60 million invested by the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies towards the Fund for Children. That fund has helped city non-profits successfully engage youth to become skilled decision-makers and action-oriented leaders.
An advocate for early childhood education, her efforts have led to multi-million-dollar investments that improve access and quality of education for children with thousands of Philadelphian families having access to high-quality early childcare due to the councilmember’s leadership.
Her efforts to improve health equity have positioned Philadelphia as a national leader in improving health outcomes, reducing unhealthy sugary drink consumption, and investing in preventative measures to impact the social determinants of health.
The positive impact of Councilmember Reynolds-Brown’s incredible work will be felt across the city of Philadelphia for years to come, and her legacy will leave a mark on every citizen and organization she has worked with, including the American Heart Association.