March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, and March 26 marks the annual Purple Day.
An abrupt spike in brain activity that results in a seizure is the result of a brain condition called epilepsy. A seizure can look like a blank stare or uncontrollable bodily motions.
“Epilepsy York is here to provide support for those with epilepsy, as well as their families and friends,” says Tina Ng, office and media administrator at Epilepsy York Region (EYR).
“Our four main goals are epilepsy education, raising awareness, support, and advocacy for those with epilepsy,” Claudia Cozza, executive director of EYR, states.
EYR works hard to reduce the stigma many people with epilepsy live with. To advocate, they want to increase education to dispel the myths associated with epilepsy.
During Epilepsy Awareness Month, EYR approaches all York municipalities to educate people on what to expect and how to handle a situation when a seizure occurs.
“We understand that it can be scary to see, but we want to ensure people know how to handle themselves if a situation ever occurs,” Ng says.
“The reality is that epilepsy is not commonly spoken about. People feel isolated and are in fear of what those will think or if others could help them,” Cozza says.
“We encourage everyone to be a part of Epilepsy York’s mailing list to become a member, and register for events from there,” Ng states, as she encourages the community’s participation.
“We are here to connect with the community and provide advocacy so they can be more included,” says Ng when asked about how EYR provides support. “We present at schools, and other places of business to not only educate staff members but to try and take away the stigma associated with epilepsy.”
“Epilepsy Education & Awareness and Seizure Safety presentations are offered to schools, community groups, and other organizations,” Ng says.
During previous Purple Shirt Days, EYR hosted a pancake Tuesday breakfast, and skating, as well as encouraged people in the community to wear purple.
EYR also provides free adult support groups for those over 19. For those that do not live with epilepsy, but are affected, EYR provides a social support group for parents of a child, of any age, living with epilepsy, to connect, share and resource with one another.
“I am encouraging everyone in the Markham and Stouffville community, including schools and workplaces, to wear purple in support of all those living with epilepsy in York Region,” Cozza says. “You can participate by having local landmarks lit purple or host a Purple Day flag raising. Municipalities can participate by proclaiming March 26th as Purple Day and the month as Epilepsy Awareness Month”.
Additionally, for children and youth with epilepsy, EYR supplies the Children’s Community Club. To encourage children with epilepsy and their siblings, aged 4 to 12, to embrace social engagement, involvement, and empowerment, EYR sponsors various social events throughout the year.
“We are happy to reach out and help inform the community,” Cozza says positively. She expresses her advocacy with great passion.
Epilepsy York is located in Stouffville. For more information, visit www.epilepsyyork.org.
Story written by Eva Laforteza-Recto.