AT grad students advocate for key issues with legislators

On April 26, first-year and second-year Master of Athletic Training students attended meetings in Columbus with senators and representatives at the Statehouse and Riffe Building in Columbus. The event was Advocacy Day, organized by the Ohio Athletic Training Association.

They had the privilege of representing athletic trainers and their mission as a profession. There were three main points that were discussed during those meetings: requiring AEDs and detailed emergency action plans at all high schools, increasing mental health sources and professionals within the high schools, and implementing third-party reimbursement for athletic trainers. Their perspectives gave the senators and representatives in Ohio a chance to understand how athletic training works and insight into how high school students, faculty and events may be impacted by mental health and the use of emergency action plans with AEDs. 

Attending Advocacy Day were (pictured left to right) Madison Sharp, Lydia Barona, Ashton Kaffenbarger, Ashley Plank, Lauren Shaw, Levi Myers and Dr. Jena Suffel. Madison shared her thoughts about the experience.

“I thought it was a very unique experience to get to have important conversations with the senator and the representative from the district I live in,” Madison said. “You don’t realize how close these individuals are to being a part of your everyday life.”

For example, in her conversation with the rep from her district, State Rep. Roy Klopfenstein, Madison learned that his kids went to school 10 minutes away from her hometown. “It allowed us to connect experiences within the schools near us while discussing AEDs, emergency action plans, and mental health,” she said.

Rep. Klopfenstein shared with Madison that he did not realize that athletic trainers are often the first individuals to notice and help refer for mental health care. “We had a long discussion about what often causes mental health issues in high school and college students and how we can help them with receiving professional care or provide sources for a better understanding of what they are experiencing.” she said.

Reflecting on the overall experience, Madison encouraged others to pursue action if they feel there is something of importance that needs to be discussed, changed or implemented by legislators.

“Not only was it a great way to help promote areas of improvement within healthcare related to high school and college students but it was also a great learning experience by discussing heavy topics with a professional. I would recommend scheduling a meeting with a senator or representative if you ever hear a bill you feel passionate about.”

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