042623CM0182SPRINGFIELD – A measure to provide classroom instruction on food and environmental allergies and allergic reactions sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman passed the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

“Most people can relate to suffering from seasonal allergies, but we also have to consider folks that suffer from food allergies,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “Severe allergic reactions are life-threatening situations that can happen anywhere to both students and teachers.”

According to the CDC, one in thirteen children experience food and environmental allergies, which equates to nearly two students per classroom. Strict avoidance of the allergen is necessary, as there is no known cure for food allergies. Avoidance is not always possible, so the CDC urges education centers to develop proactive plans for responding to unprompted allergy emergencies.

House Bill 3932 would require middle school and high school students enrolled in the Comprehensive Health Education Program to study the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, the steps to take to prevent exposure to allergens and the safe administration of emergency epinephrine.

“People aren’t always born with food allergies,” said Ellman. “Educating young people about the signs and symptoms of food allergies, as well as what to do in case of an allergy emergency, will help students understand the significance of allergies and the ways they can carry out life-saving measures.”

House Bill 3932 passed the Senate Education Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for further consideration.

042623CM0029SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman joined Jill Koski, president and CEO of the Morton Arboretum, on Wednesday to announce the planting of the 3,000th tree that met the goal for the Arboretum’s Centennial Tree Planting Initiative.

“One of the great things about Morton Arboretum and this endeavor has been the data-driven approach,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “Morton Arboretum is a gem and using trees to help mitigate severe weather and to offer means of climate resilience is both innovative and important.”

State Representatives Terra Costa Howard and Amy Grant, who helped plant the first tree as part of the Centennial Tree Planting Initiative in April 2022, also participated in the press conference, along with State Senators Suzy Glowiak Hilton and Seth Lewis. The first tree, planted on April 22, 2022, was a specially cultivated Tilia ‘Zamoyskiana’ Centennial produced from a tree in the Arboretum’s collections that was originally obtained from the Kórnik Arboretum in Poland in 1934. Since then, 51 different species of trees have been planted in 68 Illinois communities with the help of 3,710 volunteers.

“This initiative helped the Arboretum make significant progress in expanding urban and community forests as well as building partnerships with municipalities and organizations to care for the trees so they remain healthy and provide their many benefits for years to come,” Koski said in advance of Arbor Day, celebrated on April 28 this year.

Learn more about the Centennial Tree Planting Initiative here.

I was happy to join The Morton Arboretum to celebrate the completion of their Centennial Tree Planting Initiative.

041823SC3762SPRINGFIELD – High school students may soon be required to learn about the dangers of fentanyl thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman.

“The opioid epidemic has devastated our communities, leaving behind a trail of chaos,” said Ellman (D-Naperville). “The efforts to make our communities safer started with the circulation of naloxone and other lifesaving medications. Now we must expand our efforts to education.”

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, opioid overdoses in Illinois increased 33% between 2019 and 2020. The total opioid deaths in the state in 2020 was 2,944. According to the CDC, opioid use and fatalities among minors aged 14-18 increased 109% between 2020 and 2021.

House Bill 3924 seeks to combat this risk by specifically requiring all high school students enrolled in a state-required health course to learn about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl contamination.

“Educating our most vulnerable – our children – on the ways fentanyl can easily disrupt the life they know and have worked hard to create will undoubtedly help curb this epidemic,” said Ellman. “High school students are already required to learn about the negative impacts of drug use. Adding educational content on the harmful effects of fentanyl is an appropriate update to high school health class that can increase awareness and potentially save lives.”

House Bill 3924 passed the Senate Education Committee and will now head to the Senate floor for further consideration.

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