Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I LOVE February-A time to reflect

I love February.  Don't get me wrong; I hate the weather, the short days, and the occasional hints of spring that seem to slip through our fingers.  But I LOVE February. Women's Heart Disease Awareness Month is precious to me.  In February of 2000 I wrote my first State Proclamation, ratified by then Governor Mike Huckabee, making February in Arkansas "Women's Heart Disease Awareness Month". I've continued the tradition each and every February since, and am thrilled to see what started as an individual platform take root into a national tradition.  I'll never forget that first year, when Governor Huckabee looked at me and said "You're the Heart Disease lady; how's that going?"  That conversation turned into a partnership with the Governor that would change the way Arkansan's think about their health. In 2003 our lay-lobbyist group (You're the Cure, of which I serve as chairman) helped oversee the creation of Act 1220.  Act 1220 created guidelines for children's health and wellness, and set regulations for diet and physical activity in public schools.  It also was a landmark piece of legislation which added the BMI calculation to report cards for grade school children.  It hasn't been popular with everyone, but I believe it has been instrumental in the 3% decrease in childhood obesity we have seen on our state since that time.  In 2005 I was nominated to the Governor's Council on Fitness, and worked closely with the Governor as he changed the way Arkansan's viewed him, his health, and their own.  In 2006 we labored for and saw the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act.  The passage of this legislation was landmark for us, and was the result of several years of research, development, compromise and fighting.  Arkansas is now among several states in our nation whose citizens can enjoy public spaces free of carcenogenic cigarette smoke.  I cannot tell you how proud I am of the fact that I am on the team that makes those changes a reality.  This legislative session we are again working on many life saving law changes.  Last session we worked extremely hard to see the creation of a Crisis  System, which would ensure each Arkansan access to advanced emergency care in the event of a stroke in a matter of life-saving moments.  Sadly, our efforts were unsuccessful.  I pray and believe we will win our legislative battle this year.  I've been so proud to be part of a law changing, life saving team.  Yes, I love this February, and all the eight February's before, each of which represent for me a life changing, life saving year.