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Purple Day: Canadians get dressed for epilepsy awareness

Purple Day
Purple Day
The National Congress of Brazil lit up for Purple Day in 2015. This year, Toronto’s CN Tower and Vancouver’s B.C. place will do the same.

Notice a little more purple out there than usual today? No it’s not one of Prince’s legendary concerts (unless you live in Toronto, that is).

Today is “Purple Day”, a movement founded by a young women named Cassidy Megan in 2008 to help the 300,000 Canadians and 50 million people around the world who suffer from the complex neurological disorder.

Megan, who hails from Nova Scotia, struggles with epilepsy herself and has watched her movement grow in stature every year. Just a year after she launched the idea, the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation and Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia combined to launch Purple Day internationally.

I had the honour of meeting Cassidy when Canada’s first official Purple Day was celebrated on Parliament Hill on March 26, 2013. I was inspired by her courage and determination, and by the extraordinary role she has played in bringing this disorder to the forefront of public consciousness. -PM Trudeau

“I had the honour of meeting Cassidy when Canada’s first official Purple Day was celebrated on Parliament Hill on March 26, 2013,” wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today. “I was inspired by her courage and determination, and by the extraordinary role she has played in bringing this disorder to the forefront of public consciousness.”

Epileptic seizures, which may be caused by stroke, brain injury or birth defects, continue to confound researchers, although they can be controlled in about 70 per cent of cases. But epilepsy is still a danger: worldwide, about 116,000 people succumbed to it in 2013.

If you see someone having a epileptic seizure, health professional advise you to gently roll them on their side, move hard or sharp objects out of the way, do not restrain them in any way, and talk reassuringly once the seizure subsides.

A number of people in the public eye suffer from epilepsy, including actors Danny Glover and the late Margaux Hemingway, musicians Neil Young and Lindsey Buckingham, and NFL players Ronde and Tiki Barber.

It’s frustrating to hear that many people with epilepsy feel embarrassed talking about it, and worry that they will be discriminated against if they do.

Some credit Purple Day with removing the stigma associated with epilepsy.

“It’s frustrating to hear that many people with epilepsy feel embarrassed talking about it, and worry that they will be discriminated against if they do,” says Philip Lee, chief executive at the U.K. organization Epilepsy Action.

Purple Day events include a Walk to End Epilepsy in Nigeria, an Epilepsy Walk and Awareness Day in Marion, South Carolina, and a Bunny Hope for Epilepsy in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. And no, Prince the the CN Tower isn’t lit up in your honor today, it’s purple to support the epilepsy cause. Vancouver’s B.C. Place is doing the same, and the city has declared today “Purple Day”. Megan also led a Purple Day March at the Mall of America in Minnesota on Monday.

Below: Epilepsy awareness: What is the importance of Purple Day?

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