Epilepsy Awareness – All Year Long

As we wrap up November, let’s not forget that November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM) – a time to educate about epilepsy and seizures. However, this awareness is important for school personnel to have all throughout the year.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 1 in 10 people will experience a seizure throughout their life, and 1 in 26 will develop epilepsy. 3.4 million people are living with epilepsy in the United States; 470,000 of them are children. In my personal experience, being aware of students’ individual needs in relation to Epilepsy gave me a greater understanding and confidence, even if they happen to tell you in the middle of a live show with flashing lights that these are triggers for their epilepsy. That was a true experience, and I was so grateful to have an opportunity to educate myself before that moment to be able to support the student.  

Supporting National Epilepsy Awareness Month can be done in various ways, and your efforts can contribute to raising awareness, reducing stigma, and supporting individuals living with epilepsy. Here are several ways you can get involved: 

  1. Incorporate Epilepsy Education into Lessons: 
  • Integrate information about epilepsy into your lesson plans, especially if it aligns with subjects like biology, health, or psychology. 
  • Discuss the neurological aspects of epilepsy, different types of seizures, and the impact on individuals’ lives. 
  1. Organize Classroom Activities: 
  • Engage students in activities that promote awareness and understanding of epilepsy. This could include research projects, presentations, or group discussions. 
  • Encourage students to create posters or informational materials about epilepsy that can be displayed in the classroom or around the school. 
  1. Guest Speakers: 
  • Invite healthcare professionals, individuals with epilepsy, or representatives from local epilepsy organizations to speak to the class. 
  • A guest speaker can provide firsthand experiences, answer questions, and offer valuable insights. 
  1. Purple Day Celebrations: 
  • On March 26 (Purple Day), organize a class or school-wide event where students wear purple to show support for epilepsy awareness. 
  • Discuss the significance of Purple Day and its connection to epilepsy. 
  1. Read Alouds: 
  • Choose age-appropriate books or stories that feature characters with epilepsy. Reading aloud and discussing these stories can help students develop empathy and understanding. 
  • Consider titles that address common misconceptions about epilepsy. 
  1. Create a Safe and Inclusive Environment: 
  • Ensure that your classroom is a safe space for students with epilepsy. Discuss with students the importance of kindness, inclusion, and understanding. 
  • Familiarize yourself with individual students’ needs and accommodations.  
  1. Informational Materials: 
  • Provide informational materials about epilepsy in your classroom, such as brochures, posters, or educational websites. 
  • Make these resources accessible to students and encourage them to learn more about epilepsy. 
  1. Classroom Discussions: 
  • Facilitate open discussions about epilepsy. Encourage students to ask questions and share their thoughts and experiences. 
  • Address any misconceptions that may arise during discussions. 
  1. Raise Awareness Beyond the Classroom: 
  • Encourage students to share what they’ve learned about epilepsy with their families and friends. 
  • Explore ways to involve the larger school community, such as organizing assemblies or announcements. 
  1. Support Epilepsy Organizations: 
  • Connect with local epilepsy organizations and inquire about educational resources or materials that can be shared with students. 
  • Consider organizing a fundraising activity to support epilepsy research or services. 
  1. Share Personal Stories: 
  • If you or someone you know has personal experience with epilepsy, consider sharing your story to raise awareness and inspire others. 
  • Encourage students to share what they’ve learned about epilepsy with their families and friends. 

Remember that your support, no matter how small, can make a meaningful impact in raising awareness and supporting the epilepsy community. Additionally, staying informed about epilepsy throughout the year and continuing to support related initiatives beyond National Epilepsy Awareness Month is crucial for ongoing awareness and advocacy efforts. 

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