HORSHAM — Hatboro-Horsham High School Senior Sarah Pettineo wrote a portion of state Rep. Tom Murt’s farewell address that he gave on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Murt announced in January that he would not be seeking re-election to the 152nd Legislative District seat he first won in 2006. His district included the Hatboro-Horsham area, in addition to Bryn Athyn, Lower Moreland, Upper Moreland, and parts of Upper Dublin and Philadelphia.

Pettineo first met Murt when she won the Citizenship Award from the House of Representatives in fifth grade at Crooked Billet Elementary School. She says they kept in touch over the years and they would attend the same events in the community. Getting ready for college, Pettineo asked Murt if he could write her a letter of recommendation for college scholarship applications, and in return, he asked Pettineo if she could write his farewell address.

“I was surprised and not expecting it at all, but I was excited and thought it would be a great opportunity,” said Pettineo.

Pettineo wrote the portion of his speech that dealt with mental health, a topic that Murt has been passionate about over the years. In the speech, Pettineo focused on the ripple effects of mental health in a community as well as the accomplishments that Murt achieved. There was the recent passage of House Bill 1696, a parity law that treats patients’ mental health with the same urgency as their physical health. Additionally, House Bill 1895 protects a person receiving mental health treatment from abuse, neglect and exploitation, and House Resolution 515 resulted in a comprehensive study of how the county managed community health services from fiscal years 2010-2018.

“Mental health is an important topic that affects a lot of people,” said Pettineo. “I was really honored to write about it. I hope people listening felt compelled to continue the work that Rep. Murt started.”

During his time as state rep, Murt pointed to the significant strides towards equality made for Pennsylvania residents who struggle with mental health; however, the work is far from over, he said.

“To have a brighter tomorrow, we must take action today. So, I urge you to continue to pass legislation. Continue to pass and provide funding. Break the stigma. Keep fighting for what matters and do not lose motivation on this issue. It is simply too important to throw by the wayside,” said Murt in his speech.

Murt invited Pettineo and her mom and dad to visit Harrisburg for his farewell address. “It was surreal, sitting in Harrisburg and listening to something I wrote be presented there,” said Pettineo. “As a high schooler, it was not something I ever expected doing.”

Pettineo considers writing speeches one of her strong suits and has also won a Rotary speech competition. Although English is one of her strengths, she is interested in pursuing the health science field after graduation.

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