Landover, Md., April 15, 2021 — Epilepsy Foundation announced today that Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1085 into law to protect students with seizure disorders. Washington state follows Virginia whose Senate Bill 1322 (also known as the Jamie and Brie Strong Act) automatically became law on March 31, 2021. Five other states — Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey have successfully passed Seizure Safe Schools legislation, while several other states have introduced similar bills in the current session.
“Students with seizure disorders deserve to feel safe at school,” said Washington state representative Shelley Kloba (D-Kirkland), who sponsored HB 1085. “Constantly having to worry about a medical condition distracts students from their education. This life-saving policy will give children with seizure disorders and their families the peace of mind they need to focus on learning.”
In addition to Rep. Kloba, Representative Drew Stokesbary (R-Auburn) also championed HB 1085. His efforts were crucial in securing unanimous bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
Both bills ensure that schools are equipped with the tools necessary to respond appropriately to students experiencing seizures. Under the law, public schools will mandate training of school personnel on seizure detection and first aid; require that Seizure Action Plans be on file for every student diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder and available to all personnel responsible for the student; and ensure the administration of seizure rescue medication, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, or medication prescribed by the student’s health care provider.
“Seizures are common and can happen at anytime, anywhere and to anyone”, said Christie Van Cleave from Virginia, mother to Jamie Van Cleave from the Jamie and Brie Strong Act. “This includes children and teens who have already been diagnosed with a seizure disorder or those who may experience a seizure for the first time. This legislation is crucial not only for safety but for continued awareness about the prevalence of seizures and the stigma that still exists”.
The legislation, which is based on the Epilepsy Foundation’s Seizure Safe Schools initiative, makes certain that school personnel, including nurses, teachers, and volunteers, are not only prepared but can recognize and respond appropriately and efficiently to the student experiencing a seizure. Even more importantly, the legislation safeguards physician-directed care in the school setting allowing students to access necessary and oftentimes life-saving medication.
“The Epilepsy Foundation is incredibly excited for both these bills to become law,” said Laura Weidner, Esq., Vice President, Government Relations & Advocacy, Epilepsy Foundation. “There are many obstacles and challenges that come with epilepsy, so it is important to bring awareness to the entire educational community. Our goal is to pass Seizure Safe Schools legislation in all states.”
There are 470,000 children and teens living with the epilepsies in the U.S. Despite the prevalence, epilepsy is still highly misunderstood by the public. For students living with epilepsy, it is important that schools are well-equipped with the tools necessary to provide a safe and enriching environment. As part of the nationwide Seizure Safe Schools initiative, the Epilepsy Foundation is working with grassroots advocates and local Epilepsy Foundation teams to push this legislation at the state level.
If you are interested in learning more about each state’s legislative efforts, contact email@example.com. To learn seizure first aid, the Epilepsy Foundation offers free trainings for school personnel, school nurses and a Seizure Recognition and First Aid Certification program for the public. For more information, please visit epilepsy.com/FirstAid.
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide, with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy, or approximately 1 in 26 people. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures, which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions. In addition to those diagnosed with epilepsy, one in ten people will have a single seizure in their lifetime.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of partners throughout the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy. The Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding epilepsy research and supporting epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. In partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 600,000 people in seizure recognition and first aid. The Epilepsy Foundation has also assisted more than 140,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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