Sheridan holds strobe lit pub on International Epilepsy Awareness Day


Sheridan Sun /Ian Way


Sheridan’s Student Union is holding a strobe light pub at Trafalgar’s Marquee next Thursday, which is also International Epilepsy Awareness Day.

In addition to not having any kind of SU event recognizing the day, students with epilepsy won’t be able to attend the stop light party, whose theme is includes use of flashing lights that could induce an epileptic episode.

Matthew Tower, Student Union’s event coordinator for Trafalgar Campus, said he was unaware of International Epilepsy Awareness Day, which is March 26, the same day as the pub, but said there are no events planned for Sheridan’s epileptic students who’d be unable to attend the event.

Epilepsy is a common and relatively poorly understood condition, affecting an estimated 50 million people worldwide and 0.6 per cent of all Canadians, according to Epilepsy Canada.

Rowan Burke-Lacoursière, 19, a first-year Early Childhood Education student at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus, said she went to the school’s student union to talk about an event for Purple Day, an international event created in 2008 to raise awareness of epilepsy. She said the student government shrugged off her suggestion.


“It annoys me that, even though it affects so many people’s lives, the student union said that there wasn’t enough interest in an event to make it feasible,” she said.

She also said she often had to leave pub nights she attended because of the strobe lights, which are a common trigger for epileptic seizures.

The upcoming stop light party pub night at the Marquee will also feature strobe lights and dancing, with people wearing the colours that denote their relationship status.

Burke-Lacoursière has been having seizures since she was 16 and was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 17.

Tower clarified that he was unaware of the social stigma attached to those who suffer from epilepsy.

He said that if he had known about such a stigma, an event would have been inline with the student union’s monthly theme of diversity and thus more likely to happen.

Burke-Lacoursière reported that while she has a network of supportive family and friends, some people start to avoid her when she reveals to them that she has epilepsy.

She believes this is caused by of a lack of understanding about the condition despite the number of people who suffer from it.

Burke-Lacoursière said she wants people to realize that epilepsy is a diverse condition, affecting a variety of individuals differently and is nothing to be afraid of.

Only half of those people are aware of the causes of their seizures, which is the defining feature of epilepsy.

Burke-Lacoursière wants the Student Union to put up posters advertising Purple Day.

She said that even her family and close friends hadn’t heard about the day before she told them about it, which is a major concern for her.

“We hope to have all the awareness days to have events next year, but it’s difficult because there are so many of them. We are always trying our best to raise awareness for different lifestyles and people,” Tower said.

Tower encourages any students with suggestions for events to come forward to the union and make their voices heard.

“We listen to everyone, no matter who they are and when they come. We want people to come forward and share with us information that we might not have heard in order to accordingly plan upcoming events,” he said.

Burke-Lacoursière, like many of those diagnosed with epilepsy, doesn’t remember having a seuizure after experiencing one, as she frequently falls unconscious during them. She constantly worries about being an inconvienence or embarassment to her friends and family when they are out in public.
“The scariest memory of I have is waking up in the ICU with a breathing tube down my throat,” she said. “I had a bad seizure, but I don’t remember the seizure. I just remember waking up and being scared.”

To learn more about purple day, and epilepsy in general, please visit the purple day official website.

Source: Ian Way

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