Point University alumnus inspires new law that supports students with epilepsy
Published 9:19 am Saturday, May 6, 2023
By Charlotte Reames
Point University Alumnus, AJ Taylor, worked with Georgia legislators to pass a bill training teachers on epilepsy and seizure response.
SB45, or AJ’s Law, provides education and training to teachers in Georgia on how to respond to seizures in students. The law also requires schools to have a seizure action plan in place.
“It honestly makes me very proud of him as a graduate,” said Wye Huxford, professor of New Testament and Theology.
Taylor was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 14 years old. He often felt unsafe at school because he didn’t know if anyone would know how to respond.
“I knew my parents had my back at home, but what’s going to happen to me if this happened at school?” Taylor said. “Will there be somebody there that knows what to do? So it was always in the back of my head.”
In 2013, Taylor started attending to Point University. He was a cross-country runner and participated in the college’s community group FEAST.
“I started my journey of sharing my story at Point,” Taylor said.
While at Point University, Taylor had a serious seizure that ended up putting him in the hospital. He later found out that Huxford had stopped his class when the news reached campus.
“They were so concerned about him, and we stopped class and prayed for him,” Huxford said. “And we kept up with him every day for the next week or so that he was in the hospital.”
Taylor always felt supported by his classmates and professors. His teammates wore purple to support epilepsy awareness.
After that, Taylor decided to share his story on campus and tell his friends what to do in an emergency.
“I realized it’s time to not be scared and share my story,” Taylor said.
In 2020, he began looking into Seizure Safe Schools legislation after meeting some people online who had passed legislation in their own states.
In 2021, he connected with Senator Jason Anavitarte, who gave his support and drafted a bill. At the time, only 12 states had passed a similar law.
During this process, Taylor reached out to the Epilepsy Alliance of America. The national organization helped provide a model of the seizure action plan to be implemented in schools.
In March of 2023, the bill was finally presented to the Children and Family Committee in the Senate. Taylor, along with others impacted by epilepsy, stood up to testify on the bill’s behalf. It passed with bipartisan support.
House Representative Katie Dempsey carried the bill through the House of Representatives. Anavitarte surprised him by having the bill passed as “AJ’s Law.” Again, the bill passed unanimously.
On April 1, Taylor traveled to Savannah, Georgia, to see the bill passed into law.
“It’s a wild process, and very long,” Taylor said. “But we did it.”
According to the CDC, students between 6 and 17 years old with epilepsy are more likely to miss 11 or more days of school.
“This is something that I could do to impact the next generation of students so that they don’t have to go through what I had to go through,” Taylor said.
About 450,000 children under the age of 17 suffer from epilepsy. In a school of 1,000 students, 6 could have epilepsy statistically.
“Our whole idea is that no matter what your major at Point is, you learn how to take faith into the workplace. That’s one of our core values,” Huxford said. “And AJ certainly has done that on this issue, for sure.”