Sunday, April 22, 2007

Epilepsy Awareness starts in class!

Christine Canniff says she could use a little help spreading awareness about epilepsy and seizures. "I'm looking for volunteers," said Canniff, the new education outreach co-ordinator for Epilepsy Support Centre, which serves Sarnia-Lambton. Hired last month by the London, Ontario-based organization, Canniff is a resident of Chatham-Kent and recently obtained her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo. She also possesses a diploma in social work from Fanshawe College in London.

As part of her job, Canniff, who also serves in the same capacity for the Epilepsy Support Centre in Chatham-Kent, will offer an education program on epilepsy to all Grade 5 classes in the community. The program provides helpful information about epilepsy and teaches students "how to recognize different types of seizures and seizure first aid," said Canniff.

The Grade 5 program is the one that needs help with a puppet presentation, she said. Canniff is available for free presentations to workplaces, community groups and school staff. She'll also provide advocacy and support for families affected by seizures and seizure disorders. "We have a peer-to-peer mentoring program, so if there is someone that is newly diagnosed or struggling with epilepsy, then we can maybe hook them up with someone else in a similar situation," she said.

An estimated one in every 100 people are affected by epilepsy and 70 per cent of people diagnosed with epilepsy have seizures controlled with medication and may never disclose their disorder. Most lead healthy and normal lives. Canniff said those with epilepsy are afraid of having a seizure, especially in public, and the general public would be afraid of seeing someone have a seizure and not know what to do to help. "Education eliminates the fear and anxiety on both sides," she said. For information call 1-866-EPILEPSY (1-866-374-5377) or e-mail Canniff at


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