Over 74,000 people in the metro DC area are living with epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation Metro DC is committed to addressing the needs of the epilepsy community through a variety of programs and services. We offer information and referral assistance; individual and family support services; serve as advocates for the rights of those with epilepsy; provide education on epilepsy treatment and care; and offer community-based education on seizure first aid to employers, emergency first-responders, school nurses, and other allied health professionals.
In February 2020, we hosted our first Epilepsy & Wellness Conference which was attended by over 100 people living with epilepsy, families and caregivers. The program offered valuable information on living with epilepsy, but also the opportunity to meet others facing similar challenges and experiences.
We work to bring awareness to epilepsy and seizures in the community. Each year we host a Purple Pumpkin Awareness event at Children’s Hospital. Over 50 children participated in our purple pumpkin awareness event last fall. Kids decorated a purple pumpkin, learned about epilepsy and seizures, played brain games and met other families impacted by epilepsy. In addition, this program brings together a group of volunteer high school and college students that donate and paint the pumpkins purple for our event.
Advocating on behalf of those with epilepsy is important. Each year we select a teenager with epilepsy to represent us at the Teens Speak Up! & Public Policy Institute held on Capitol Hill. The Metro DC Teens Speak Up! representative for 2020 is Naomi, an 8th grader from Potomac, Maryland. Naomi participated in the Teens Speak Up! & Public Policy Institute on Capitol Hill. She made office visits to her local Senators and Representatives to share her personal story and discuss the current issues facing people impacted by epilepsy. Naomi has committed to a year of service through the program and we are excited to work with her to bring epilepsy awareness and advocacy to our local community.
Volunteers are one of our greatest assets. DC resident Erika is a volunteer Epilepsy Awareness Ambassador who engages in monthly activities to increase knowledge about epilepsy in the DC community through social media, epilepsy awareness-based events, and sharing Epilepsy Foundation resources & initiatives.
Having epilepsy or caring for someone who does can be challenging. When epilepsy is diagnosed, it affects the whole family. Sometimes the practical problems of daily living – from insurance, to jobs, to medical care – may seem overwhelming. At other times, it helps just to talk to people who understand what it is like to live with epilepsy. We offer two different support groups in the DC area: one for adults living with epilepsy and one for parents with a child living with epilepsy. These groups meet monthly to share and support each other.
Due to COVID-19, many of our programs have shifted to virtual. We are now offering monthly virtual education sessions, support groups, seizure first aid training, and kid programs like our Purple Pumpkin Program.
For more information about the Epilepsy Foundation Metro DC, visit: www.epilepsywdc.org.