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Student Participates In 'Kids Congress'

Oak Hill resident Andrew Imm recently spent two days on Capitol Hill as a representative for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Nysmith School student attended the inaugural Food and Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) Kids' Congress Oct. 18 and 19 after an essay he wrote caught the eye of the selection committee. Imm was on The Hill to advocate Virginia legislators to increase food allergy education in the classroom.

More than 70 school-aged children from 31 states and the District of Columbia participated in the event to promote the school food allergy education act.

The FAAN Kids' Congress on Capitol Hill is geared toward creating a better understanding of food allergies, advocating for federal funding for food allergy research, and encouraging elected officials to establish food allergy legislation in U.S. schools.

FAAN's signature program is the Protect A Life from food allergies, or PAL. During his two days, Imm met with Virginia legislators and asked them to "Be a PAL" and support the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act of 2005 introduced by U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).

This Act will help establish a federal standard regarding the management of children at school who are at risk for anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction. Specifically, the Act will direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop a policy for managing the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools. The federal policy would then be made available to local educational agencies, along with other interested parties and entities.

Food allergy management strategies often differ from state to state, school district to school district, and school to school. This inconsistency forces parents of food-allergic children and school nurses to adjust when a child moves to a new state, attends a different school, or moves to a new grade. Additionally, a delay in administering epinephrine when a reaction occurs at school is believed to be a factor in fatal reactions. This law will ensure that everyone is prepared for these allergic emergencies.