I am Dennise Whitley and I live in Norway, Maine. I am a proud volunteer for the American Heart Association.
I served for 13 years as the Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association here in Maine. Five years ago, I made the tough decision to (mostly) retire to pursue other fun adventures and be free to travel with my husband and spend time with my grandkids and great-grandkids.
However, I never gave up caring about the American Heart Association and our mission. In fact, just last month, I went back to Augusta to testify on behalf of the AHA on a bill to assess Maine’s commitment to PE. It made me sad that despite all the evidence, we are still fighting for policies that encourage PE. In the meantime, our kids have gotten more obese and less active while our legislature looks the other way.
PE today is vastly different than it was when I was a kid. Over the past two decades, physical education has undergone a transformation in rigor and focus and now is recognized as essential to a young person’s overall education experience and a foundation for better scholastic achievement. PE also sets a course to lead our young people to lifelong, healthy living. Well-defined policy helps create an environment of valuing physical education as a core subject.
Unfortunately, I will be back in Augusta again in the future. The Education Committee did not see fit to pass the bill this time. I guess they must like seeing my face time and time again. I know the American Heart Association will keep fighting for the health of our kids using our commitment to strong evidence-based policies. I will continue to help carry the message. I hope you will join me!