The American Heart Association is urging Iowa lawmakers to pass legislation to encourage schools to open their facilities to the public.
Doug Chew, a Heart Association volunteer, says that kind of “shared use” is particularly important in rural Iowa where private-sector work-out clubs are rare. “This is a really nice thing because it’s not going to cost a single penny for the legislature,” Chew says. “All we’re trying to do is get legislation passed — and it exists in three other states as well — so that schools will be able to open all facilities, both indoor and outdoor, to all community residents.”
The proposed legislation would provide some liability coverage to schools. “Anything except for gross negligence, the school and the school board would not be held liable for that,” Chew says. Chew, who is 65 years old, became an American Heart Association volunteer after suffering a heart attack as he was walking on Christmas Day five years ago. “Boy, all of a sudden I clutch my chest. I double over, unable to breathe, just about to fall down and finally about a minute of that I’m able to warm up enough where I start to breathe again and I say, ‘Boy, that was funny. I’ll bet I have some funny kind of flu or something like that,'” Chew says. “So being that ignorant when about five days later I found out, gosh, it was a whole lot more than the flu, I thought: ‘Well, you know since I survived this and proving that stupidity doesn’t kill someone, necessarily, perhaps I could do something to educate and advocate.'”
Chew was at the statehouse today, for the American Heart Association’s lobbying day at the capitol.