Janeka Jones from Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Ray Woodrick and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity sat down for Community Conversations, to talk about their upcoming CPR training at the Hylton Boys & Girls Club.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your organization and the program that you’ve got coming up.
JJ: Yes, I’m a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated – a member of the Phi Kappa Zeta Chapter of Woodbridge, Virginia.
RW: Myself, I’m with the brother fraternity organization for Zeta Phi Beta, which is Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated – Omicron Zeta Sigma Chapter here in Prince William County.
Q: You have an event coming up at the Boys & Girls Club. Why don’t you tell us about that?
JJ: Yes, on April  on a Saturday, we’re going to be doing a two-hour CPR awareness and training event. It started off that we wanted to do it specifically for the [Boys] & Girls Club – the Hylton Branch Boys & Girls Club – but no we want to open it up to all family members. Anyone that wants to come out and be trained, we want them to all come out and attend.
Q: So are you just looking for any individuals, are you looking for groups of people, businesses – can anybody come to this event?
JJ: Yes, we want everyone to come out and be trained.
Q: And you guys just recently did some training at the Boys & Girls Club. What kind of training was that?
JJ: That was hands-only CPR training.
Q: And that was with who? Was that with your group, or ‘train the trainers’, or?
JJ: Yes, it was called ‘Train the Trainer’ and it was led by the American Heart Association rep, his name was John Tut. He came out and I believe we had about 30 to 40 participants that came and learned how to do the hands-only CPR training.
Q: And so this hands-on CPR training is a little bit different than say your traditional CPR. Why is this type of training good for the community?
JJ: It’s good for the community because statistically about 3% of all Americans do not know how to perform CPR. So hands-only, there’s hands-only and then there’s mouth-to-mouth, but we want to teach the hands-only because any amount of CPR is helpful. And so that’s why we wanna go out and train the youngest of children to understand – don’t be afraid of this, but if you know what you’re doing, you can help save a life.
Q: So families can come with their kids, and everybody’s welcome to come to this one?
JJ: Yes, everyone is welcome.
Q: How is your involvement with your fraternity – how does that work with this program?
RW: Well we basically work in tandem with our sorority here. We provide additional support – the joke is we provide the heavy lifting for them at times. But no, we collaborate together, we voice our opinions so that way everything can run smoothly. When my sorority here first came to me about it, I was excited about it.
And over time, I started to pick up more and more about it and even myself, I started to get excited about it. I kind of hope that moving forward that the event on the 29th becomes an annual thing, to keep pushing the agenda of learning CPR. A little fun fact about myself, my senior of high school I accidentally learned how to give CPR training. I was working somewhere and someone said ‘Hey Ray, you wanna learn how to do it?’ And I said ‘Why not?’
I didn’t understand the merit of it at first until years down the road, but unfortunately I was not certified anymore, but I still understand the purpose of having it.
JJ: I wanted someone who actually performed CPR and I found out through the American Heart Association rep John Tut, that this was more personal. And so that’s how I started out, by just wanting to do a community service event, but now it did become more personal to me, once I heard about Gwyneth, Gwyneth Griffin. Once I heard about her, this event, it just turned around for me.
Joel Griffin, the Chairman for the Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation spoke to us about the importance of children learning CPR skills.
JG: Our focus is on providing CPR awareness to the community. Our objective is to change lives and create a culture of action. For us it’s important to note that CPR is something that can be done by any individual. It does not require a certification, although CPR certifications are often available to individuals. CPR training is something anyone can perform.
CPR is available to individuals from adolescent to adult and can be used to save a life and ultimately that’s what our foundation is about.
Q: And how did your foundation get started?
JG: So when our oldest daughter passed away, Gwyneth, she collapsed at her school, and unfortunately did not receive CPR in a timely manner. Because of that, we want to make sure that other families don’t have similar situations. It’s important that while we can’t create a situation where every child will survive or every individual will survive a sudden cardiac arrest, but what we can do is we can ensure that every family knows that everything possible was done to save that individual. And give that person who collapsed the opportunity for a full recovery.
Q: With your foundation, you’re working with different groups. How well does that work for the community? Do you feel that there’s a benefit to get many people involved, or is it something that you feel is more individual training? Especially with this new type of CPR that the American Heart [Association] is putting out there. How do you think that’s going to affect the community in terms of the school systems?
JG: Gwenyth’s Gift has three programs – the first is scholarships for students within Stafford County, and the second is AED grants, providing AED devices to organizations, schools, community based organizations – so we can make sure that those devices are located within the areas that you’re going to have a lot of people. But the third program, and this is really where it ties in with the Boys & Girls Club and the efforts of Janeka is the awareness piece.
CPR can be performed by anyone – as long as they’re 90 pounds or more, they can perform CPR. And then in our particular situation, the day that Gwenyth collapsed, it’s the students that went to find me, that went to get the AED, that called 911. So students are not as inhibited as many adults. They really want to be involved, they want to try to help and we want to encourage that. You know the Boys & Girls Club is a great organization that’s trying to promote opportunities for kids and opportunities is not just about academics or athletics. Opportunities exist about – do they have the right peers around?
Do they have role models and examples? The sorority and fraternity being available to exemplify ‘There are opportunities for you.’ And we just want to encourage that, we just want students to understand that they can make a difference. Age is not a factor. That you can save a life – as long as you have the basic knowledge and understanding, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Whether that’s your friend at school, whether that’s your family member at your home or whether that’s someone in your church or athletic events. You know, it’s important that students feel like they have the knowledge to be successful.
We often think of knowledge as a thing that you learn at school, but it’s just as important that children have life knowledge as well. This is something they will take with them for the remainder of their life. As a matter of fact, one of the first things that Jennifer and I did when we were working to change the culture of Virginia was to get Gwenyth’s Law enacted. Gwenyth’s Law – one of the components is that in this graduating school year, 2016-2017 school year, every graduating senior will have the CPR training. So that’s 70,000 people – young individuals that are going to be in our communities that have that knowledge and training. But we feel like if we get kids earlier than that, and they can have something that’s taught to them repeatedly and community-based organizations like Boys & Girls Club, but also in the schools, that’s something that again is a life skill that they can carry with them.
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