HALIFAX, March 1 /CNW/ - After two weeks cheering for gold, silver and bronze, 11-year-old Cassidy Megan of Halifax, Nova Scotia is going for purple and inspiring supporters around the world to do the same. March is Epilepsy Awareness Month and Cassidy, who lives with epilepsy, created Purple Day for Epilepsy (Purple Day) to increase awareness and dispel myths about one of Canada's most common neurological disorders.
"Purple Day helps Canadians understand that not all seizures are the same, and that people with epilepsy are ordinary people just like everybody else," said Cassidy Megan, the founder of Purple Day. "Purple Day also reminds people living with epilepsy that they aren't alone. That's why we wear purple, the international colour for epilepsy."
Epilepsy affects 300,000 people in Canada and 50 million people worldwide, which is more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined. Despite its prevalence, epilepsy isn't well-understood and people with epilepsy continue to face social stigma and discrimination.
"When people know more about different kinds of seizures, and how to help someone having a seizure, they immediately become more receptive to seeing the person with epilepsy as an ordinary individual," said Deirdre Floyd, president of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia, who helped Cassidy bring Purple Day to life. "Purple Day reminds Canadians that people living with epilepsy need understanding and acceptance, and deserve comprehensive care and access to innovative treatment options to effectively manage their disorder."
Purple Day increases awareness, reduces stigma and empowers individuals living with epilepsy to take action in their communities. Canadians are encouraged to learn more about epilepsy throughout the month of March, culminating with Purple Day on March 26. Fifteen countries will be participating in the 2010 Purple Day activities, with participants around the world supporting epilepsy by wearing purple or by getting involved in a Purple Day awareness or fundraising event.
"Providing the public with accurate information about epilepsy is the key to better acceptance of people with the disorder," said Catherine Sauerwein, a neuropsychologist and president of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance. "Demystifying epilepsy is a major step towards improving the quality of life of individuals with epilepsy."
Member groups of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance are rolling out Purple Day activities across the country. Last year, the international launch of Purple Day led to the involvement of numerous organizations, schools, businesses, politicians and celebrities worldwide. This year, Ambassadors of Purple will be organizing grassroots events around the globe, with volunteer Ambassadors working in countries such as the United States, Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, Uganda and Kuwait.
Epilepsy is a group of disorders of the central nervous system, specifically the brain. Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures and can occur at any age. A seizure occurs when the normal electrical balance in the brain is lost. The brain's nerve cells misfire, either firing when they shouldn't or not firing when they should. The type of seizure depends on how many cells fire and which area of the brain is involved. A person that has a seizure may experience an alteration in behaviour, consciousness, movement, perception and/or sensation. Epilepsy is not contagious, and is rarely fatal.
About Purple Day
Purple Day for Epilepsy (Purple Day) is held each year on March 26 and is dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy by reducing stigma and empowering individuals living with epilepsy to take action in their communities. It was founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, and named after the internationally recognized colour for epilepsy, lavender. Purple Day was launched internationally in 2009. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation in the United States are the global partners for the Purple Day campaign. UCB Canada Inc. is the exclusive Canadian pharmaceutical partner for the 2010 Purple Day campaign. For more information, please visit www.purpleday.org.
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