Halifax teen taking fight to raise awareness for epilepsy around the world
March 26 is known as Purple Day across Canada, and the young creator of the campaign for epilepsy awareness is making her fight global.
Cassidy Megan was motivated by her own experiences with the disorder to educate others. The Halifax teen started Purple Day in 2008 when she was only eight years old and her message has since spread across the world.
Cassidy’s goal was to dispel myths associated with the condition and to let people suffering from seizures know that they’re not alone. Cassidy was diagnosed when she was seven and felt alone not knowing anyone else with epilepsy.
“I hid it for about a year and a half then the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia they gave a presentation to my class and I saw how understanding my friends were my peers were in the presentation and that gave me the courage to speak up,” says Cassidy.
The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia partners with Cassidy to establish Purple Day to change minds about epilepsy.
“Epilepsy is almost an invisible disease and I know that you think that it would be strange that I would say that. It’s invisible because of the fact that there are some seizures that you sometimes can’t detect and most people have a preconceived idea of what epilepsy actually is,” says Debbie Tobine, executive director of Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia.
“You may have epilepsy, but epilepsy doesn’t have you.”
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Epilepsy affects about 50-million people around the world. Canada is the first country to recognize Purple Day nationally and there are now more than 100 countries that participate in creating awareness on March 26. Cassidy is in India spreading awareness with the Epilepsy Foundation of India.
Tobine says that there is a stigma surrounding epilepsy.
“The purpose of Purple Day and the reason why Cassidy created it was when you’re diagnosed with epilepsy you feel isolated and alone because a lot of people don’t like to talk about the fact that they have epilepsy,” said Tobine.
Cassidy says that education about epilepsy is important for everyone, not just people living with it.
“If I was choking would you know what to do? And most people in the room always say yes. But if I ask them would they know what to do if I had a seizure, maybe three of them would put their hands up. I want to change that so that everyone does know what to do,” Cassidy says.
Cassidy’s hopes for the future is that Purple day expands to every country and education becomes mandatory in first-aid sessions and in schools.
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