Athletic trainers representing 24 states joined us in Washington, DC, today for our biggest advocacy event of the year, Capitol Hill Day. Attendees conducted 192 meetings with legislators in support of the three pieces of legislation introduced last week:
- H.R. 829 / S. 436: SAFE PLAY (Supporting Athletes, Families and Educators to Protect the Lives of Athletic Youth) Act
- H.R. 921: Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act
- H.Res. 112 / S. Res. 83: Secondary School Student Athletes’ Bill of Rights
Want to learn more about those three bills? Click here.
After being briefed on the current climate in Congress and learning our best tips for effectively meeting with legislators, the group set out for Capitol Hill. The NATA legislative team schedules meetings strategically so that ATs can meet with legislators and legislative aids from their local areas, asking for his/her support for AT legislation. We were pretty cold, but that didn't chill the group's enthusiasm! Click below to check out our Twitter video from the Cannon Building steps.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, introduced S. Res. 83: The Secondary School Athletes' Bill of Rights on the Senate floor today. District One Director Tim Weston, MEd, ATC, and Ursula Vollkommer-Haley, ATC, met with Sen. Collins this afternoon to personally thank her for supporting the S. Res. 83. "She's a huge supporter of athletic trainers," Weston said. "She asked us some great questions about concussion management in high school sports and was very interested in our work."
Weston and Vollkommer-Haley meet with Sen. Susan Collins on Monday, Feb. 23.
Both Weston and Vollkommer-Haley have been involved in government affairs for many years; in fact, Vollkommer-Haley attended the very first Capitol Hill Day. She said that they used to have to spend a majority of their meeting explaining what an athletic trainer does, but awareness has increased so much that they can now skip the overview and launch right into the important conversations about current AT legislation. "We used to have to do so much more education," she said. "Now a lot of the legislative staffers had athletic trainers at their high schools and understand exactly what we do."
After those 192 meetings, each athletic trainer filled out a feedback form with notes and information that the NATA Government Affairs team can use to follow up with each legislator. The ATs will follow up as well, sending personal emails to the legislators to ask for their support for each bill. The goal is to gain more co-sponsors for each piece of legislation to help the bills gain momentum and support.
How can you help?
Read this previous blog post to learn about each bill and download a tip sheet explaining how to call your local legislators and ask for his/her support. Don't underestimate the impact of one phone call or personal meeting: Your efforts on a local level are extremely valuable to advancing federal legislation.
"No one else is going to get on a soapbox and 'spread the gospel,' as I like to call it," Weston said. "ATs have to get involved if we want this legislation to succeed."
- We live-Tweeted the entire experience from Capitol Hill today! Check it out (@NATA1950).
- View photos from Capitol Hill Day 2015 at NATA PhotoZone.
- Look for a full recap of Capitol Hill Day 2015 in your April NATA News.