Brynleigh’s Act Will Protect 7,900 Children Living with Epilepsy in Maryland
Bowie, Md., January 18, 2022 — The Epilepsy Foundation today announced the introduction of Brynleigh’s Act (HB 136/SB 299) in the Maryland legislature. This bill ensures that all school personnel will be trained to recognize and respond appropriately to students experiencing seizures. To date, 12 states across the country have successfully passed Seizure Safe School legislation, including neighboring state Virginia. The bill, named after 8-year-old Brynleigh Shillinger, will be heard by the House Ways & Means Committee on January 20.
"Speaking as a parent of a child with epilepsy, I can attest to the 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, but all other Maryland families whose lives are impacted by seizures. Our epilepsy warriors fight every day and so we have not stopped advocating for this life-saving legislation. We have listened and worked collaboratively with many stakeholders to get to this point. Our children deserve a safe and inclusive environment at school, and we hope this bill will come to fruition this session."
“I am honored to sponsor this legislation on behalf of the nearly eight thousand children in Maryland living with active epilepsy,” said State Senator Ronald Young (District 3, Frederick County), who is sponsoring the proposed legislation. “Brynleigh’s Act will raise awareness, improve care, and implement a practical and uniform standard of care in schools across the state. I personally know several children, in addition to Brynleigh, that suffer from seizures and are at risk every day and night. As I leave the Senate after this year I would really like to know that these children are protected while in school.” The bill is also being sponsored by Delegates Ken Kerr (District 3B, Frederick County) and Steve Johnson (District 34A, Harford County).
The creation of a seizure safe nation is a top priority for the Epilepsy Foundation and passing Seizure Safe Schools legislation across the country is an integral component that enables thousands of people to be trained and make students safer. There are approximately 59,900 people living with epilepsy in Maryland, of which 7,900 are children and teens. 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.
“Brynleigh’s Act will help to ensure that school personnel are equipped with the tools and information they need to support students as well as co-workers or school visitors who may be experiencing a seizure,” said Ande Kolp, Executive Director of The Arc Maryland. “The provisions outlined in the bill will create an environment that supports the full inclusion of children with special healthcare needs. We at The Arc Maryland are deeply grateful to the Epilepsy Foundation for their advocacy, Brynleigh’s mother, Lauren for her passion, and to the bill sponsors for their championship of this important legislation.”
Brynleigh’s Act includes several critical components including training school personnel on seizure detection and first aid response on a biennial basis; 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 a Good Samaritan clause.
To join the Maryland Seizure Safe Schools efforts, please contact email@example.com. To learn more about the national legislative effort, visit https://epilepsy.com/seizure-safe-schools.
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 continues to focus on serving the epilepsy community through advocacy, education, direct services and research for new therapies. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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