Raising awareness of epilepsy on Purple Day

March 26 is Purple Day, a chance to dress head to toe in purple and spread awareness about epilepsy. We chatted to founder Cassidy Megan about why the day is so important.

Credit: Purple Day/Cassidy Megan

Cassidy Megan was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was seven years old. Now 20, Cassidy has been raising awareness of the condition ever since.

Nearly one in every 220 children and young people aged under 18 in the UK are diagnosed with epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder which means there is a tendency to have recurring seizures.

INSPIRATION

When Cassidy was first diagnosed she was embarrassed and didn’t know what an epilepsy diagnosis meant for her. “I was scared and felt really alone,” remembers Cassidy. “I didn’t know anyone else with epilepsy – I thought I was the only kid with epilepsy.”

After seeing adverts for various awareness days on TV, Cassidy asked her mum why there was no day dedicated to epilepsy awareness. Explaining that March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, Cassidy wanted more.

Purple Day Gala 2018, credit: Purple Day/Cassidy Megan

“I wanted to have just one day where the whole world could come together and let people with epilepsy know they were not alone,” explains Cassidy. “So that no one would feel like I did.”

At eight-years-old, in 2008, Cassidy founded Purple Day. The awareness day has taken place on 26 March every year since.

EDUCATION

The day was created to raise awareness of epilepsy and the need for better education on the condition.

“There are still people out there who have epilepsy and think that they can’t talk about it and that they are alone,”continues Cassidy. “It makes me realise that there is still so much work to do.”

Each year more schools, businesses and governments around the world are going purple to spread this message.

Cassidy believes education is key to improving the lives of people with epilepsy, she says: “With better education comes power: the power to make a difference, to make the changes needed and the power to help everyone be accepted.”

Cassidy appearing on Global News Edmonton, credit: Purple Day/Cassidy Megan

Whether you are wearing purple to work today or have sent the kids to school in their best purple outfit you are helping to make a difference. With better awareness comes better education and research.

Currently in the UK, 70% of the population with epilepsy could be seizure free with the right treatment but only 52% are seizure free.

GOING PURPLE

There are countless ways to take part in Purple Day, Cassidy adds: “People can hold events like galas or tea parties, schools can get involved by asking the students to wear purple on 26 March and having their local epilepsy agency come in and do a presentation on epilepsy education and seizure first aid.”

Last year’s highlights included all of NASA wearing purple in support of better education on epilepsy. “Astronaut Ricky Arnold posted pics on his social media wearing purple while he was on the international space station,” remembers Cassidy fondly.

It seems the sky isn’t even the limit on Purple Day, so get creative.

For Cassidy the best part of the day is seeing photos and videos from people spreading epilepsy awareness around the world.

What are you doing to take part in Purple Day? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram to start a discussion. 

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