WILBRAHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A student from here in western Mass is the force behind a bill under consideration at the State House.
The legislation calls for restaurants to have EpiPens on hand.
"I think that everyone should stand up for what they believe in no matter how old they are," local student Kennedy Pelleiter tells us.
Kennedy Pelleiter, a seventh grader at Wilbraham and Monson Academy, is finding her voice and advocating for a cause that has directly affected her life.
Kennedy is allergic to fish and shellfish and though she tries to avoid it, she had an allergic reaction while eating at a restaurant in Boston, through, what she thinks was, cross contamination of foods.
"I thought, 'Why don't restaurants and food places have EpiPens?" asked Pelleiter.
So she took that thought and contacted senator, Jim Welch of West Springfield, who says he filed the bill after hearing Kennedy's story and says there are countless stories similar to hers.
He tells Western Mass News in part:
"It is important to ensure that people with food allergies have access to life-saving medication in a space where reactions are likely to occur. If just one person benefits from this legislation, we have done our jobs."
The bill would allow pharmacies to dispense EpiPens to restaurants, and the devices would be available to the patient, family member, or a health care provider that happens to be in the restaurant at the time, protecting the restaurant from liability.
Just a few weeks ago, Kennedy got the invitation to speak at the State House.
Faculty, along with twenty-eight students, accompanied Kennedy to Beacon Hill to watch her testify.
"It was really cool. I was a little bit nervous, but I was really excited, because not a lot of people my age get to do that," stated Pelleiter.
"What I think is exceptional about this particular experience was that we had adults that were listening to the voice of a seventh grader," Stuart Whitcomb, the director of the academy's middle school, says.
Whitcomb tells Western Mass News Kennedy isn't the most outgoing, but she found the strength to speak in front of a powerful audience.
"She is quiet and she's quietly making a really huge impression on the students in her class, and I hope this carries over to students in the state and beyond," said Whitcomb.
And it's certainly having an impact on Kennedy's friends.
"This really inspires me to help a lot of people and do things that I may have been scared of doing before," added seventh grader Olivia Tierney.