In October 2009, Darius Jones suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) while doing what he loved best: competing in a youth basketball game. He was fifteen years old. Darius's death exposed a need which is now being met by the foundation that bears his name. Nationwide, approximately 7,000 youth die of sudden cardiac arrest every year, mostly due to undiagnosed heart conditions. Cardiovascular disease is the second leading medical cause of death in children and adolescents in the United States.
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As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization governed by a volunteer board of directors, we seek to reduce the disparity in cardiac arrest deaths in communities of color. In Contra Costa County, the death rate from heart disease in African-Americans is 258.8 per 100,000, compared with 151.9 for whites. Public awareness campaigns for the recognition of the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and the application of CPR have been widely embraced in white communities, while the African-American and Hispanic communities historically have displayed distrust in medical establishments. By conducting community-level outreach using a neighborhood, block-to-block approach, we aim to inform African American, Hispanic, and White families of the threat of sudden cardiac arrest and teach them life-saving ways to respond. We strive to provide services to the most underserved areas, and the credibility of Darius' story allows us to have the unique ability to connect with communities of color.
The Darius Jones Foundation has established partnerships with various organizations in Contra Costa County to prevent deaths resulting from sudden cardiac arrest including the County's HeartSafe Community initiative; Contra Costa Health Services; American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service; Annuvia Inc., an AED distributor; school district representatives and others. It is our belief that we can complement the educational and outreach efforts of these organizations by accessing faith-based sites and providing culturally competent messages.
Initially, we focused on providing CPR training and AEDs at schools. In 2010, our first year of existence, we began to address this need by providing 11 AEDs to local schools. We are now embarking on prevention in the form of detection with youth heart screening. Screening would have found Darius´ undetected heart condition.Do you want to know more?