HONOLULU ( KHON2) — An Oahu woman, who has been paddling for half a century is helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle.
And not just in the ocean.
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It’s a sense of familiarity when Denise Darval-Chang stares into the deep blue. Almost like a second home.
Denise Darval-Chang, the East Honolulu resident said, “The ocean, absolutely. It could be my first home.”
A place she’s known from a young age. Darval-Chang was just 12 years old when she would go to the ocean with her brothers who paddled.
Denise said, “You know the first time I ever got into a canoe down there in Maunalua Bay and it was just like, wow you’re floating on water and being moved forward by human power.”
She continued, “And I was fortunate some rockstar Hawaiians taught me how to steer, Billy Mitchell, the Kukeas, Nainoa Thompson was in my brothers’ crew.”
50 years later, she’s still paddling. The East Honolulu native recently stepped down as head coach of Hui Nalu O Hawaii Canoe Club. But she’s not slowing down at all.
“I am fussy and I don’t do well if i’m not working out,” Denise added.
Whether it’s biking, hiking or doing yoga, she’s active five days a week.
Denise also promotes health in her Department of Education job, serving as the Honolulu District Health and P.E. Resource Teacher.
And when kids were stuck at home during the pandemic, she made sure they got out, creating the summer program called Malama Opio. She garnered the help of others to mentor children and teach them about health and culture.
“Whether it was coconut weaving water safety, how to scale and prep fish for frying, makahiki games and tie-dye shirts and whatever,” said Denise.
She encourages people of all ages to live a healthy lifestyle and even helps by providing a shuttle for paddlers. It’s a sport and lifestyle that’s become a family affair with her husband and sons.
Denise asked, “It’s never too late for one, you gotta start sometime but why not just start?”