Heart N Hands


Heart N Hands




Heart N Hands Non-Profit Organization


This is a questionnaire video to learn more about Heart N Hands. This video entails an interview with the founder, Essence Banks, and an in-depth view of heart disease in young women.


Amber Parks


My Nola, My Story via Youtube


Mass Communications Department at the Xavier University of Louisiana.


3rd December 2020


Amber Parks


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2020




Premiere Pro, video




A Digital Humanities project by Xavier University of Louisiana's Mass Communication Department students, led by Dr. Shearon Roberts

Original Format


Amber Parks : Heart N Hands is a non-profit organization created to spread awareness about heart
disease and the role it plays in women's

Essence Banks : i started heart and hands in 2014

because i really wanted to educate young girls

about heart disease and heart health

prevention which we know heart disease

is the number one killer women

so i'm really passionate about the work

on being proactive and educating

about heart health and heart disease

because i am a survivor now

of 16 years as

a heart disease survivor and wanted to

educate young women

and girls about the importance of really

just taking care of their overall health

especially their heart health

so you know being able to start a


is very hard it's hard work it takes

perseverance determination all those


right that you think about but i think

for me

it really wasn't that hard because it's

a passion of mine

and you know when i was diagnosed with

heart disease i was only 30 years old

and so i just really felt like i needed

to educate as many women

as i could right and so i did that for

the first 10 years

and then after that um

i was celebrating my 10 year anniversary

as a survivor and thought what else

could i do to really get ahead of this

disease right

and that's when i thought about the

young girls

and so starting a non-profit was like

you know started in my living room and i

thought wow i can do this but then once

you get

involved in it and you see everything

that you need to do

and that comes with start a non-profit

that's when you really have to pull

those skills out right and figure out

you know how you're going to pull


your board of directors and how you're

going to you know focus on your

financials and raise money

you know all that fun stuff but it

definitely takes

you know time and it takes dedication to

really get it started and so now we're

celebrating six years

and just really excited about the work

that we've done i mean we're

still growing and still learning so the

journey you know never ends

so with you know a non-profit it again

it is hard work

but it's so rewarding when you see how

you're impacting you know lives and

changing lives in the community

especially with the girls and young

women that we serve

well new orleans because i am a native

right so i

am a new orleans girl so i always say

i'm a local

at heart and so i wanted to have an

organization where

you know when you look at the statistics

for heart disease

louisiana is in that i guess that

southern belt where we have high cases

especially in our um people of color

communities right so you see

high blood pressure cholesterol diabetes

you know strokes

all the risk factors for heart disease

are in

predominantly southern states and so of

course you know being here i really

wanted to focus on our community

educating them about the importance of

just really taking care of their overall

heart health

the goal though for heart and hands i'm

glad you asked that question

is to expand to other cities right so

this year

uh during the pandemic we were able to

really focus on expanding

our reach for the organization and so

now we are

in nashville tennessee as of august of

this year

and then january it's a secret

we will be launching and rolling it out


memphis tennessee and then hopefully

we'll have other cities to follow

but the goal is to be in all 50 states

so you'll see

us just like you see an american heart


you know and some of our other

partnering organizations so that's the


yes i was nervous from the very

beginning because i

have never started a non-profit before

so of course i had like this anxiousness

like what am i supposed to do how do i

get this started

how do i get people to know what i do in

the community so

that's the part that was really

nerve-wracking and then how am i gonna


an organization you know when

it is really like my secondary job right

so i have

you know your day job then you have this

passion project so it's kind of like how

do you

juggle and manage you know both of them

um and so initially in the beginning

very nervous about raising funds you

know how do i get other

organizations and donors and supporters

to believe

in the mission you know kind of like i

do and like the other

members of the board of directors so uh

yeah very very nervous initially i must


and you know some days i still have that

where you know i might be working on a

new project for heart and hands or

we come up with something that's

different and we're thinking okay

are people gonna like it are the girls

gonna like it you know so we have put

junior board members on our board of

directors as well

just to kind of hear what is happening

in the community right because we're


we don't know what you know girls really

want or what

they would be interested in and so

that's why we kind of brought on

some younger board members like you know

we have an eighth grader

because again we want to hear what's

happening in their community right among
their peers

so we can try to make sure that you know

we're really touching on all the things


they're interested in and doing so we

tied it into our program

but you know all those thoughts about

you know

sustaining the organization what does it


you know how are we going to get money

how are we going to fund the


always make me pretty nervous and


i guess as the years go by it's going to

get better so the

programs that we produce for the young


everything is interactive because we

know you know young girls attention

spans right you got to get them

keep them engaged as long as possible so

when we go into schools or we partner

with you know girl scouts or girls on

the run

we're bringing to them possibly a

fitness session so we might go in and do


yoga pilates um we do mindfulness

meditation you know with them so we have

interactive activities and then we tie

the lecture piece in about

the importance of taking care of your

heart so it's not just all a straight

lecture you know we try to make sure the

girls are up and moving

and while they're doing that you know we

may bring in

one of our cardiologists to talk about

the importance of you know heart health

etc and then we have also done cooking

demonstrations right we've also

you know done some sessions where we

bring in heart healthy snacks to

different extracurricular activity teams

you know at schools so that's been

really fun to bring in some fresh fruit


you know a heart healthy snack into

their exercise or their practice

routines so yeah we do so many different


with the girls uh in our community and

we always are looking for

organizations that have girls so we go

where the girls are right so right now

we don't have a program that we work

with a specific group of girls

but if there is another non-profit

organization that has a mentoring


or they're looking for someone to come

in for one of the week sessions and


you know a fitness session or again

something you know light something


related uh giving them heart healthy


we will then come in and partner with

them on programs such as that

and hopefully we'll have our own girls

soon where we can kind of work with them

and you know track their progress and um

you know just see how they enjoy some of

the components of the program

and so i think the most important thing


my journey with heart health and heart

disease is

every time i do a talk or i go to a

church or i'm presenting to a sorority


whatever it is in the community or i'm

working with the young girls at the end


every session someone always comes up to

me and says you know oh i didn't know

that this could happen to me it happened

to you wow you were just 30 years old

or they'll say you know i'm having some


you know that you mentioned you know in

your talk what should i do

and that's always so rewarding for me is

to hear

people actually open up about it and not

you know think i can't share it or i

can't really say what's going on because

it's personal

and then to hear later you know after

a session that we've done that some of

the girls come up to me and say yeah you

kind of like change

my thought process about fast food you


or yeah i shouldn't have fast food every

day maybe i'll just cut back and

you know have my have a treat every week

versus you know seven days a week

so i've heard so many great stories

about that i've actually had a cousin

after a recent 5k she did the virtual 5k

she lives in atlanta

and she said as a result of the 5k her

and her son

are now walking like three times a week

you know just because

when she got out to move for the 5k she

thought wow i could do this

right it's not that long 3.1 miles

but when you constantly are thinking

about working out you think oh

i don't want to do it but then once you

get out there it's

you know it's easy it becomes fun so

really hearing like testimonials and

you know people who have changed their


as a result of some of the things that

we're doing is just so rewarding

and and the other thing is i mean

there's young women that i know in their

early 20s

now that you know have been diagnosed

with some form of heart disease

or diabetes and so you know my message

always is it's not the old people's


it's not the old man or old woman or a

fat person even

you know when you think about heart

disease and all the myths that we

already have in our hair like yeah i

have time for that or

i don't need to worry about it the

reason why i started heart and hands is


people can say no i need to worry about

it now so i can prevent it later

that's the biggest thing about heart

disease eighty percent of it is


and not a lot of people know that they

think oh if i get i just get it no

like you can do things to combat it you

know you can live a healthier life you

can get out and start walking and

exercising and just paying more

attention to your health

versus in the long run you'll have to


you know and so for me the the odd thing


i didn't have any of those symptoms

the things i just mentioned to you i

didn't have high blood pressure

no high cholesterol no diabetes never

had a stroke

never had a heart attack was never

overweight didn't smoke

never smoked you know so all the things

that you see on the checklist

of what is heart disease you'll see all

those things

what are the risk factors for heart

disease i didn't have any of them

so it's like okay some people say it

could have been stress related

or it could be hereditary right it could

be something down the line that

you know mine presented itself in the

form of coronary artery disease so

blockage of the arteries

but yeah you know so my thing is you

just never know

you think yeah 30 years old is pretty

young you're in the prime of your life

you're working getting your career going

you know and this happens it definitely

is a huge shock

to the system like what not me

so that's why i'm just so passionate

about getting the message out especially

to young

girls young women like yourself because

you can make a change now

yes for sure so the prevention part is

focusing on your doctor's visits

right creating you know coming up with a

list of questions

that you want to know about your overall

health because a lot

of times and i know this happened to me

when i was younger you go to your annual


everything's fine you check the box and

you leave but you didn't really ask

questions about how did my blood work

come back how was my numbers for my

you know total cholesterol my blood

pressure um

glucose levels things like that so

really having a checklist when you're

meeting with the doctor and

asking you know how are the levels

because maybe
you could be borderline and just don't

know it right so

just really being more proactive about

your overall health

knowing your numbers totally versus

waiting for something to happen

and then you go you know hit you out of

the blue um

and then of course sticking to some type

of you know

heart healthy eating habits

incorporating fruit and veggies

and everything that you do that should

be like on a weekly

basis you know making sure that you're

having balance meals

and that you're getting out and doing

some type of physical activity

so those are the main things and then

listen to your body whatever it is

whether it's heart disease or something


your body never lies and we know our
bodies more than anyone

so you know my key message is when you

feel something is wrong

go get it checked out go to the doctor

right don't be afraid to just say let me

just make sure

everything is okay versus waiting or you

know putting it off

procrastinating just go get it checked out

thank you

across the sky


Closing Credits




Amber Parks


Amber Parks


Screen Shot 2020-12-03 at 12.34.19 PM.png
Date Added
October 21, 2020
Item Type
Moving Image
, , , , , , , ,
Amber Parks, “Heart N Hands,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed May 21, 2024, https://xulamasscomm.omeka.net/items/show/116.