Teen advocates for seizure safety, celebrates new law in New Jersey

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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Teen advocates for seizure safety, celebrates new law in New Jersey
17-year-old Paul St. Pierre is a big advocate for a New Jersey law facilitating the creation of seizure safety signs that employers may display in their businesses.

MT. EPHRAIM, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Paul St. Pierre, a 17-year-old student at Eastern High School in Voorhees Township, has spent nearly a half decade fighting for seizure safety in New Jersey.

"In 2019, I got diagnosed with epilepsy," he said. "I had a seizure in school and that's where it first started."

St. Pierre and his mother, Colleen Quinn, became advocates rather quickly. They succeeded in the signing of "Paul's Law" in 2020, which requires school staff to become educated on how to handle students who may experience seizures.

Despite the victory, they realized they had a gap in advocacy for adults who may experience seizures. So, they set their sights on promoting a bill to facilitate the creation of first-aid infographics that can be placed in businesses across the state.

Fast forward to November 20, 2023, and Bill A2583 was signed into law. It "requires information on seizure first-aid to be disseminated to employers."

The text in the law directs the Department of Health to "create an informational pamphlet or poster for employers on rendering seizure first aid to an individual who has suffered a seizure in the workplace." It also states that employers "may provide the information... to employees and post the information in a prominent place within the employer's workplace."

This means that, in due time, employers will be able to access seizure safety signage and place them in their workplaces. However, the law does not suggest that employers will be compelled to do so.

Businesses like Bobby Ray's Taverns in Pennsauken and Mt. Ephraim are already posting the pre-existing signage coined by Epilepsy Services New Jersey in their workplaces. Colleen Quinn hopes it's the spark needed to turn seizure safety into more common knowledge.

"The Department of Health will hopefully vet the signs that we showed you earlier today and then put those on their website and disseminate them to employers," she said. "Hopefully, employers who watch this video will be inclined to hang them in a prominent position in their businesses to help people with epilepsy in the community at large."

In the future, St. Pierre and his family and friends hope to advocate for legislation on a federal level that protects people who experience seizures even further.

"If you're out there and you have epilepsy, you're just like me. You're not alone," he said.

To learn more about Paul's Law, the recently-signed Bill A2583, or Epilepsy Services New Jersey, click the respective hyperlinks.

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