Toronto celebrates Purple Day for epilepsy awareness

TORONTO – Union Station and downtown Toronto’s PATH system were painted purple Tuesday morning.

March 26 is officially recognized as Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness in Canada.

Volunteers from Epilepsy Toronto were on hand to greet commuters, hand out information cards and collect donations.

“It’s very, very important that we get the message out to help raise a better understanding about what epilepsy is and dispel the myths,” Drew Woodley, Director of Communications for Epilepsy Toronto said.

Information booths were also set up in hospitals throughout the city.  An event planned for the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Tuesday offers the public a chance to take part in a scavenger hunt and face painting.

In Ottawa, members of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance will be gathering with 14-year old Cassidy Megan at a reception on Parliament Hill.

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Members of Parliament across the political spectrum also rose Tuesday in support of Purple Day and epilepsy awareness.

“I am very proud to rise today and stand in support of Purple Day,” Conservative MP Patrick Brown said. “We’re all touched by epilepsy whether it’s from a family member, co-worker, friend or neighbour. Those living with epilepsy face challenges, discrimination and often times a lower quality of life.”

NDP MP Mathew Kellway said Tuesday that “today… orange turns purple.”

“This is what’s in our hearts today, on this, the first official day for epilepsy awareness,” Kellway said.

Megan founded Purple Day in 2008 in an effort to help other children at her school.
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“I wanted people to know there are different types of seizures and that they shouldn’t be afraid,” said Megan.

“The more people learn about epilepsy, and with the right support and care, people like me can enjoy life, just like everyone else.”

SickKids Hospital in Toronto is also recognizing Purple Day as children make t-shirts, decorations and artwork.

“For purple day, we really try to get the kids involved and know that it’s not a hidden secret and they should be involved,” Dr. Elizabeth Kerr said.

The hospital is home to a school for children who have intractable epilepsy and those who have recently undergone brain surgery to treat it.

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“The classroom is really established as a remedial program for kids with epilepsy who also have some learning issues,” Kerr said. “But the added piece is that we really want to empower them to live well with epilepsy and to build resilience so they can be the best selves they can be.”

1 in 100 Canadians live with epilepsy.  That’s more than 300,000 Canadians and 50 million people worldwide.  Epilepsy is defined a wide range of seizure disorders of the central nervous system, specifically the brain.