Epilepsy Foundation and Two Virginia Students Introduce Senate Bill to Create Seizure Safe Schools in Virginia

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Jamie and Brie Strong Act, Championed by Senator Bill DeSteph, Will Help Protect More than 11,000 Children Living with Epilepsy in the State

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The Epilepsy Foundation, along with Yorktown high schooler Jamie Van Cleave and Virginia Beach middle-schooler Brie Gesick, today announced the introduction of the Jamie and Brie Strong Act, Senate Bill 420, in the Virginia General Assembly which calls for state legislation to ensure all school personnel, including nurses, and teachers, are not only prepared but can recognize and respond appropriately and efficiently to students experiencing seizures. To date, five states — Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey — have successfully passed Seizure Safe School legislation.

"I am honored to sponsor Senate Bill 420, which provides information and training to ensure seizure safe schools,” said Senator Bill DeSteph, 8th District of Virginia. “There are more than 3.4 million people in the U.S. living with epilepsy — many of them children. This important legislation will provide safety and security for our young children while they attend school. I am proud to champion the Jamie and Brie Strong Act, as we refer to it here in Virginia, and look forward to joining other states in passing this important legislation.”

There are approximately 85,000 people living with epilepsy in Virginia and 11,000 are children. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is still highly misunderstood by the public. The Foundation’s goal is to build an empathetic next generation who welcome people living with epilepsy as their friends, neighbors, and future colleagues and who are prepared to help them by knowing proper seizure first aid. The Jamie and Brie Strong Act, which is endorsed by the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia, will raise awareness and implement a uniform standard of care and response across the state so that students have access to the care they need and reach their full academic potential.

“As a parent, I can attest to the importance and need for this bill which will make a huge difference in the life of not just my daughter, but for so many other families,” said Christie Van Cleave, Jamie’s mom. “Now that Brie and Jamie have found each other, they are working together as a team. Despite the challenges of living with epilepsy, these girls continue to persevere and advocate to make positive change for the entire epilepsy community. Their conditions will not be in vain.”

The Jamie and Brie Strong Act has four components included in the bill:

  • Train school personnel on seizure detection and first aid response;
  • Mandate Seizure Action Plans be on file for every student diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder, and require those plans be available to all personnel responsible for the student;
  • Ensure the administration of medications approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration; and
  • A Good Samaritan Clause for those who act in good faith in accordance with the bill’s provisions.

“The Jamie and Brie Strong Act is so special because it would make Virginia the first state to have two epilepsy warriors’ names on the bill itself,” said Rowena Gesick, Brie’s mom. “It will help show other families how important it is to come together and become a united village in the face of epilepsy and the challenges it brings. It is a great message of hope for our children — that together we can move mountains.”

Learn more about the Jamie And Brie Strong Act and support this effort by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JamieAndBrieStrongAct/?ref=share.

To learn more about Epilepsy Foundation’s Seizure Safe School nationwide initiative, please visit advocacy.epilepsy.com/seizuresafeschools.

About Epilepsy

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. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.

About the Epilepsy Foundation

With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is leading the fight to END 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 $68.7 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,091 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 18 years, 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 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer seizure first aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 123,470 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, 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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Contact Name: 
Jackie Aker
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(310) 846-9272
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Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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