Legislation sponsored by State Senator Neil Anderson (Rock Island) aimed at improving safety in Illinois’ schools and recognizing the importance of extra-curricular activities in kids’ lives was signed into law July 16.
“Nothing is more important than the health, safety, and happiness of our children. Kids should be able to go to school knowing their classroom is a safe place,” said Anderson. “Music education, involvement in the arts and playing sports have all been proven to help students with social, behavioral, and cognitive development. Increasing awareness for the benefits of these programs is important. I’m pleased that the Governor has signed these bills into law.”
Senate Bill 1340/Public Act 99-0065 creates the School Security and Standards Task Force to study the current security conditions, make recommendations and draft minimum standards for schools to provide a safer learning environment for students.
The Task Force brings together individuals who have knowledge, experience, and expertise in the security field or who have worked within school systems, to compose and submit to the General Assembly and the Governor a report containing recommendations for school safety.
The Task Force was previously proposed by State Sen. Tim Bivins (Dixon), but its work was not able to be completed because then-Governor Pat Quinn failed to make appointments in a timely manner. Anderson’s legislation would give the Task Force another chance to make students safe.
Another measure sponsored by Anderson, SB 1484/PA 99-0066 establishes “Preventing Lost Potential Day” as the third Saturday in September, to celebrate and recognize the potential of young people, and ensure that all children have exposure to arts and athletics. “Preventing Lost Potential Day” is an initiative of the HAVlife Foundation, which serves to support young people in their pursuit of extracurricular activities like sports, music and the arts.
The HAVlife Foundation was started in 2007 by Mike and Brenda Vondran in honor of their son Hunter Aaron Vondran. Hunter, a 13-year-old who was active in his school’s band and sports, was tragically killed in an accident in 2004. Hunter’s parents started the foundation to give students the help they needed to pursue their musical and athletic talents, like Hunter did.
Since 2007, the HAVlife Foundation has raised more than $500,000 which has been awarded as scholarships to students to help them achieve their musical and athletic goals.
Both bills passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly.