Hearts and Quilts: UW Health Nurse Uses Her Hobby to Promote Heart Disease Awareness
MADISON - When UW Hospital and Clinics nurse Helen Martin needed a special project to complete her graduate school studies at Edgewood College, the natural choice was to combine her two passions - quilting and nursing.
Martin pulled together educational materials and set out to teach women about heart health while they quilted. The result was not only a top grade, but also the beginning of a larger project intended to spread the word about women's heart health to quilters across the state of Wisconsin.
Now, her efforts are supported by UW Health and have become part of the American Heart Association's national Go Red For Women campaign. (UW Health is the exclusive Madison partner for Go Red For Women
"Women who quilt tend to be sedentary, and that makes them a group that needs to know about the facts and risks of heart disease," says Martin, who works in the hospital's medical-surgical unit. "Plus, it's a captive audience, and I'm in a unique position - I know and love quilting, and I know this audience is receptive to what I'm saying."
Martin's first presentation, to a group of six women at the Belleville-based Patches and Petals quilting shop, resulted in the creation of a Go Red For Women quilt that the group will donate to the American Heart Association.
It was also a harbinger of bigger things to come. Since then, Martin's spoken to several larger groups, including hosting a booth with UW Health at a recent Quilt Expo in Madison, where she brought her message to more than 10,000 quilters.
Martin's goal has been to get more quilts made to auction at the American Heart Association Go Red For Women Luncheon on April 17, 2008.
"The education part of this is the most important aspect," notes Martin. "The focus should be on learning… and doing something you enjoy while you're doing it."
Heart disease kills one in three women and is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, heart disease kills more people than the next five causes of death combined. In 2007, 57 percent of women recognized the red dress as a symbol of heart disease awareness. Yet only 13 percent of women believe that heart disease is a threat to their personal health.
Quilt Donation and Speaker Invitation Information
For more information about the quilting campaign and Go Red For Women, or to sign up for upcoming local Go Red events and activities, visit www.uwhealth.org/GoRed
Pictured (above, left): UW Hospital and Clinics nurse Helen Martin with Nancy Zieman of the PBS show "Sewing With Nancy"
Date Published: 12/28/2007