Purple Day is dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. People wear purple and host events in order to bring attention to it. The day was created in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a young girl who struggled with epilepsy. Her goal was to raise awareness about epilepsy so myths about it would go away, and so those who have it would know they aren't alone. That same year, The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia joined Cassidy to help her get her idea off the ground. In 2009, the day was launched internationally when The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia was joined by the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. Since then, many schools, businesses, organizations, politicians, and celebrities have become involved with the day. More than 100,000 students, 95 workplaces, and 116 politicians participated in 2009. People have now participated in all seven continents!
Epilepsy is a brain condition that causes recurrent seizures. Sometimes they happen rarely, but sometimes they happen multiple times a day. Nerve cells and neurons communicate in the brain through electrical and chemical signals, and the seizures come from a sudden electrical discharge in the brain. The seizures don't all look the same—some cause blank stares, while others cause muscle spasms, odd sensations, uncontrolled movements, or convulsions. It all depends on where the abnormal discharge happens in the brain. The seizures may be triggered by things such as lack of sleep, missing meals, forgetting medication, stress, illness, and flickering screens.
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders—about 50 million people have epilepsy worldwide, with about 2.2 million of them being in the United States. Many people of note have had the disorder. Epilepsy is not a disease, is not contagious, and is not a psychological disorder—it is a seizure disorder. Onset usually happens in youth or in the later stages of life. Some children may outgrow it, and some adults have remission. There isn't a cure, but surgery can eliminate seizures for about 10-15% of people. Half of those with it can also control seizures with medication.
How to Observe
The first thing that you can do to celebrate the day is to make sure to wear purple! Check for events going on in your area. You could even register to host an event yourself. You may want to look at some event ideas to help you out. You could also sign up to be an ambassador or participant. Media resources are available to promote the day. You could also contact your representatives and encourage them to make a proclamation and wear purple. Letter and proclamation templates can be found in the media resources link. The day could also be spent reading more detailed information about epilepsy. In general, the day should be spent finding ways to raise awareness about epilepsy, and to educate others about it.