‘It has been a year of change and productive initiative’

May 31, 2012
Epilepsy Ontario executive director Rozalyn Werner

Asked to summarize Epilepsy Ontario’s past year, executive director Rozalyn Werner-Arcé doesn’t hesitate in her response: “It has been a year of change and productive initiative.”

The executive director spoke at the organization’s May 29 annual general meeting (AGM), where she highlighted the successes and changes seen throughout 2011-12.

Werner-Arcé began by paying tribute to former executive director Dianna Findlay, who retired May 31, 2011. She applauded Findlay for being a dedicated champion in Ontario’s epilepsy community who “nurtured dozens of local epilepsy agencies, some of which took root and have grown to become strong, thriving organizations providing much-needed supports and services in their local communities.”

Werner-Arcé also commended Epilepsy Ontario’s affiliates and partner agencies, specifically the staff, board members and volunteers she has met since joining Epilepsy Ontario last year, for their passion for their work and for being “creative in developing and delivering supports and programs in their respective communities.”

Queen’s Park Action Day 2011 saw volunteers and staff from Epilepsy Ontario, epilepsy agencies and the Epilepsy Cure Initiative “enthusiastically” educate MPPs about issues people affected by epilepsy face.

“There was a very positive feeling about the day and that it would lead to even greater possibilities,” says Werner-Arcé.

The Provincial Epilepsy Care Strategy for Refractory Epilepsy was proposed in 2011, a move that is being characterized as having the potential to have a significant impact on Ontarians with epilepsy.

Implementation of the strategy would include a co-ordinated effort that would see the establishment of strategy standards and guidelines of care, training for doctors and other professionals, and the establishment of four regional epilepsy centres throughout the province, Werner-Arcé says.

Epilepsy Ontario is advocating to ensure that the meaningful supports and services that local epilepsy agencies provide are included in the strategy.  This includes things such as providing information and support upon diagnosis, connecting people with peers who have gone through similar experiences, or providing education about epilepsy in workplaces and schools, just to name a few.

Other successes seen during the past year include Summerfest, which provided 24 children and youths with a summer camp experience. The event was made possible through Epilepsy Ontario’s partnership with Camp Couchiching, Anita Allen of SickKids and Epilepsy Toronto.

One of the inspiring aspects of 2011-12 was the OBCL Epilepsy Scholarship, which provided 10 students each with a $1,000 scholarship.

Werner-Arcé says the essays written by the students illustrate how epilepsy is not controlling their lives.

“Indeed, they are in control and acknowledge that epilepsy is just one facet of their whole life,” she says, adding a thank-you to Osler Business Consulting Ltd. for its support of the scholarship program.

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Writer: Deron Hamel

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