One of our key advocacy initiatives this year involves expanding the availability of epinephrine auto-injectors in schools. More than 20 states already have laws or guidelines in place allowing schools to have on hand “stock” epinephrine, which is not prescribed to a specific student, but can be used for any student or staff member in an anaphylactic emergency.
Washington state joined that group in April with the help of Charlie Porter and his mother Sally.
Charlie is allergic to peanuts, soy and peas; Sally is the Food Allergy Chair of her school’s PTA and a tireless food allergy advocate. Sally worked with State Sen. Mark Mullet to help pass the new legislation in Washington, which will greatly increase schools’ ability to provide life-saving medication for students.
Charlie did his part by bravely testifying before the state legislature, talking to the legislators about food allergies and demonstrating how to use an auto-injector. On May 16, 2013, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law at a ceremony at his office in Olympia.
We talked to Charlie about what it was like to advocate for this law:
What’s it like having food allergies?
It can be hard because people say I am missing out on peanut candy like Snickers.
How did you get involved with the stock epinephrine law in Washington? Why was it was important to you?
Because my mom was one of the people who helped make this law. My mom thought I should get involved. I heard stories about how kids died from food allergies and I didn’t want that to happen anymore. Everyone should be safe in school.
What was it like to talk in front of the state legislature?
I was very nervous. I didn’t know if I was saying the right things. It was my first time speaking in front of very important people. They were all very nice and they clapped for me. When they talked about it on the House Floor, one representative said, “If a nine-year-old can do it, anyone can.”
I really like the law we worked on – we worked hard. It was really fun to be there and see the governor sign it into law. He even said my name to the cameras. It is a moment I will never forget.
Do you think other kids could do the same thing? What would your advice be to them?
Yes, I think other kids could do it easily. I would tell them, “Don’t be nervous – It’ll be great! Practice with someone you trust and remember what you practice.”
Thank you to Charlie and Sally for their hard work in passing this important bill in Washington!
Just two weeks ago on May 22, 2013, the federal School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (H.R. 2094) was reintroduced into Congress. This bill encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have on hand “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors. It’s now critical to build support for federal legislation, whether or not your state has already passed a bill. Please contact your U.S. Representative and urge them to support this important legislation!
For information on how to contact your U.S. representative about the H.R. 2094 bill, please visit our website.