March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and epilepsy support agencies across Ontario are working hard to spread the word to help the public learn more about seizure disorders and their impact on people. A highlight of the month is Purple Day, an international day of raising epilepsy awareness that was started by Canadian Cassidy Megan.
Rhonda Latendresse of the Seizure & Brain Injury Centre in Timmins says one of the great wins for her agency this year was getting city councils in Timmins, Temiskaming Shores and Iroquois Falls to proclaim March as Epilepsy Awareness Month and to mark March 26 as Purple Day.
The Seizure & Brain Injury Centre has also sent information packages about epilepsy to more than 10 libraries within its catchment area. The packages contain printed material that will be used in displays, as well as information in bookmarks that will be given to library patrons.
Additionally, the centre will host events to raise money for the agency, including a dance-a-thon and a bowling event. Area banks have also come on board to raise money through casual dress days.
Latendresse underscores the value of engaging people through fun events to raise awareness.
“You’ve got to draw people’s attention with something interesting, (because) sometimes just doing presentations doesn’t cut the mustard,” she says.
Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton (EHPH) is also busy preparing for Epilepsy Awareness Month.
This year, the agency is selling cookie and muffin scoop-and-bake tubs to the public in March, through a partnership with MacMillan’s Inc.
Along with each order, people will receive an epilepsy information package, including details about seizure disorders and the free programs and services available at EHPH.
The agency will also hold a charity penny drive to help send children with epilepsy and their siblings to the Sunny Days Camp for Children Living with Epilepsy, says managing director Melinda Prain.
Prain says Epilepsy Awareness Month and Purple Day are “like Christmas” to the agency.
“It’s not about what we get, it’s about what we get to give to others, and that’s awareness about epilepsy,” she says.
To help recognize Epilepsy Awareness Month, Epilepsy Niagara has been invited to the Niagara IceDogs March 3 game against the Windsor Spitfires, where representatives from the agency will participate in the pre-game puck-dropping ceremony.
Epilepsy Niagara will also have an information booth set up at the Jack Gatecliff Arena during the game.
Executive director Kristin Welton applauds the strong relationship between the agency and the IceDogs organization. She says this type of engagement helps spread the message to a broader audience.
“It shows that we’re making stronger partnerships within the entire community, (and) it’s really great being out in the public and letting people know we exist and that we’re here to service people and that our services are free,” says Welton.
To learn more about Purple Day or to become a Purple Day ambassador, visit www.purpleday.org.
To find a Purple Day event hosted by a local epilepsy agency in Ontario, visit the Purple Day calendar of events.
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Writer: Deron Hamel