Lifesaving Lessons Learned at Longfellow Middle School
Last week, Longfellow Middle School took part in an all-day CPR training event organized by Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation. The foundation was created in 2015 by Joel and Jennifer Griffin in honor of Gwyneth, their oldest daughter. Gwyneth collapsed unexpectedly during her middle school field day in 2012. She passed away after weeks in the hospital, shortly after her 13th birthday.
After Gwyneth’s death, the Griffins spent countless hours advocating to establish Gwyneth’s Law, requiring placement of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in all public schools in Virginia. The law also requires mandatory annual Hands-Only CPR training for all Virginia public school teachers and Hands-Only CPR training for all Virginia high school students as a graduation requirement.
Eighth-grader Anisha Talreja was impacted by Gwyneth’s death. After coming to Fairfax County in 2019, she coordinated with Longfellow Middle School and Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation to host their largest training event to date—more than 1,000 students were trained in one day to perform Hands-Only CPR.
Gwyneth was in middle school when she needed this life saving treatment. This year, the Foundation will not only visit Longfellow, but also Katherine Johnson and Herndon middle schools. Because of this training and their four AEDs, Longfellow became the first HEARTSafe school in Fairfax County. The Foundation hopes to hold more events in middle schools throughout the state.
Anisha is now a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Her younger brother, Arnav, is following in her footsteps. As an eighth-grader at Longfellow, Arnav is working on a global application to increase visibility of Gwyneth’s story and to help save lives. In April, he will be presenting his app on Capitol Hill at the prestigious #HouseOfCode event.
Since 2018, Gwyneth’s Gift Foundation has deployed 100 AEDs throughout the Commonwealth with a plan of deploying another 22 this year. After the collapse of NFL player Damar Hamlin, the foundation has seen an influx of requests for CPR, and AED training and placements which they provide for free, thanks to donations.
Similarly, the Fairfax County Police Department is seeking to expand their safety programs. Detective Tammy Russell, who volunteered to help at Longfellow’s CPR day, shared that the FCPD has been “working on funding and resources to put an AED in every police cruiser in the county.”