“We have a tremendous opportunity to save many other people. But to do so, we must initiate …. We must innovate … and we must collaborate.”
With those words, Donna Arnett, PhD, MSPH, BSN, FAHA, President of the American Heart Association officially opened Scientific Sessions 2012.
She is absolutely spot on. She was talking about scientific research, but could have easily been talking about advocacy.
I read these inspiring words as I sat near my exhibit table at the 2012 MAHPERD Conference. MAHPERD stands for Maine Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. In the next room, my colleagues are handing out awards to the schools that raised the most money for the American Heart Association with their Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs. There are over 300 people in that room. They have one of those great big fake checks and a ton of enthusiasm. I can hear the cheers across the hall—a great example of collaboration. The American Heart Association collaborates with MAHPERD in both our youth market programs and in advocacy. One reason I am here to today is to recruit members for MAHPERD’s burgeoning advocacy committee and they in turn are sending folks my way to sign up for You’re the Cure.
I have attended this conference before and it is always inspiring to see these teachers dedicated to trying new approaches to improve the physical activity and health of their students—a fantastic example of innovation. I have also met students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Farmington who are future health and PE teachers. They are so enthusiastic. It is refreshing to see.
AHA is initiating the effort to add CPR to the curriculum here in Maine. We are leading the way, but MAHPERD will be our partner every step of the way. My other goal today is to find those health and PE teachers who agree that CPR should be taught to all Maine high school students before they graduate (pretty much all of them) and to find those willing to reach out to their legislators when the time comes. I am doing a presentation on Tuesday where I will help my new advocates learn about the legislative process. Then, I will head home and VOTE.