CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, July 10, 2023 — The Boys & Girl Clubs of the Coastal Bend is the first Boys & Girls Club in Texas to adopt the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Emergency Response Plan, or CERP, to address the disparity in the number of people trained in bystander CPR.

The Association, the world's leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, is providing life-saving CPR training to all club members, staff and other stakeholders. CPR, when performed immediately and effectively, can double or triple the chance of survival following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend serves about 2,500 youth ages 6-18 through after-school programs, summer camps, sports leagues and community events at four locations in the Coastal Bend area. The club aims to reduce the risk of children and teens being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe when school is not in session.

“The majority of kids attending the Coastal Bend club come from low-income and minority neighborhoods with little to no access to this CPR training,” said Melissa De La Garza, community impact director for the American Heart Association in the Coastal Bend area and Rio Grande Valley. Bystander CPR education will also be added to its current curriculum for after-school and summer camps, she said. 

“Developing this CERP ensures that both staff and members have the knowledge and training to save a life,” said Kim Barrientos, CEO of the Boys & Girl Clubs of the Coastal Bend. “We’ll have practice drills and re-evaluate the plan yearly to make sure we’re reaching as many people as possible.”

In addition, the Club worked with the Association to create a Comprehensive Smoke-Free Organizational Policy for both staff and members that prohibits smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes, as well as vaping, anywhere club activities take place.

A 2022 study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days. About 14% of those queried were high school students, and about 3 percent were middle school students. Nearly 85% of those youth used flavored e-cigarettes, and more than half used disposable e-cigarettes.

The American Heart Association’s smoke-free initiative includes education on the effects of tobacco use and support for tobacco cessation.  

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend recognize that historically marginalized communities are less likely to be screened for tobacco use or to receive tobacco cessation treatment,” said De La Garza.

“The club is committed to providing a safe, healthy on-campus learning and work environment for students, faculty, staff, clients, contractors, vendors, visitors, lessees and individuals,” Barrientos added.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.  

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