Epilepsy Foundation and Maryland Elected Officials Champion Seizure Safe School Legislation

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Brynleigh’s Act Will Protect 7,900 Children Living with Epilepsy in Maryland

LANDOVER, Md. — The Epilepsy Foundation today announced the introduction of Brynleigh’s Act (SB 0225 and HB 0370) in the Maryland legislature. This bill ensures that all school personnel will be trained to recognize and respond appropriately to students experiencing seizures. Five states — Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, and Illinois — have successfully passed Seizure Safe School legislation, while several other states have introduced similar bills in the current session. The bill, named after 6-year-old Brynleigh Shillinger, was originally introduced during the 2020 state legislative session. Hearings were held, but the bill subsequently stalled due to the ongoing pandemic. The bill will be heard by both the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on January 20.  

“All students deserve to be safe and protected in their school,” said State Senator Ronald Young (District 3, Frederick County), who is sponsoring the proposed legislation. “Brynleigh’s Act helps ensure that students with seizure disorders have the resources they need to go to school without fear for their safety.” 

State Senator Brian Feldman (District 15, Montgomery County) and Delegate Ken Kerr (District 3B, Frederick County) are also sponsors of the legislation.

There are approximately 59,900 people living with epilepsy in Maryland, of which 7,900 are children. Approximately 1 in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime; a teacher, student, or even a school nurse could someday benefit from others nearby knowing how to respond. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy is still highly misunderstood by the public. The Epilepsy Foundation’s goal is to build an empathetic next generation who welcome people living with epilepsy as their friends, neighbors, and colleagues and who are prepared to help them with proper seizure first aid. 

“We are fighting for everyone impacted by seizures,” said Laura Weidner, Esq., Vice President, Government Relations & Advocacy, Epilepsy Foundation. “It’s important that schools are equipped with the tools necessary to provide a safe and enriching environment for students with seizures and those who may develop them. Brynleigh’s Act raises awareness and implements a uniform response standard across the state, ensuring that students have access to the care they need to reach their full academic potential.”

Brynleigh’s Act has several components which the Epilepsy Foundation hopes will be included in the bill: training school personnel on seizure detection and first aid response; mandating Seizure Action Plans to be on file for every student diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder and requiring those plans be available to all personnel responsible for the student; ensuring the administration of medications approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration; and educating students about epilepsy and seizure first aid response

"As a parent of a child with epilepsy, I can attest to the critical importance and urgent need for this bill,” said Lauren Shillinger, Brynleigh’s mother. “This legislation will make a huge difference in the life of not just my child, who will have many years in public school, but all other Maryland students who are affected by seizures. We were anxious when our daughter started preschool since there is no required seizure training currently in school and not all school personnel know how to recognize a seizure and administer seizure first aid. This bill’s trainings, tools, and knowledge can help save a child’s life."

To join the Maryland Seizure Safe Schools efforts, please contact publicpolicy@efa.org. To learn more about the national legislative effort, visit Epilepsy.com/Seizure-Safe-Schools.

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, 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 nearly 50 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 $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 600,000 people in seizure recognition and first aid. Since 2008, 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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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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