Today (26 March) is Purple Day, a chance to dress head to toe in purple and spread awareness about epilepsy. We chatted to founder Cassidy Megan about why the day is so important.
Cassidy Megan was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was seven years old. Now 20, Cassidy has been raising awareness of the condition ever since.
When Cassidy was first diagnosed she was embarrassed and didn’t know what an epilepsy diagnosis meant for her.
“I was scared and felt really alone,” remembers Cassidy. “I didn’t know anyone else with epilepsy – I thought I was the only kid with epilepsy.”
After seeing adverts for various awareness days on TV, Cassidy asked her mum why there was no day dedicated to epilepsy awareness.
Explaining that March is Epilepsy Awareness Month, Cassidy wanted more.
“I wanted to have just one day where the whole world could come together and let people with epilepsy know they were not alone,” explains Cassidy. “So that no one would feel like I did.”
At eight-years-old, in 2008, Cassidy founded Purple Day. The awareness day has taken place on 26 March every year since.
The day was created to raise awareness of epilepsy and the need for better education on the condition.
“There are still people out there who have epilepsy and think that they can’t talk about it and that they are alone,” continues Cassidy. “It makes me realise that there is still so much work to do.”
Each year more schools, businesses and governments around the world are going purple to spread this message.
Cassidy believes education is key to improving the lives of people with epilepsy, she says:
“With better education comes power: the power to make a difference, to make the changes needed and the power to help everyone be accepted.”
The need for better education on epilepsy is highlighted to Cassidy on Purple day each year.
“The meaning of Purple Day has not changed for me,” Cassidy explains.
“If anything has changed it’s that with each story I hear about people facing discrimination, feeling scared or people not knowing what to do if they see someone having a seizure, I know there is still work to do.”
Seizure first aid will continue be a focus area for Cassidy and Purple Day.
“If you see me or someone choking, would you know what to do to save me?,” Cassidy asks. “Almost everyone says yes so then I ask them, if I was having a seizure would you know what to do to save me?
“It’s amazing how many people say no or say the wrong thing, that needs to change. “
As the day continues to grow every year, Cassidy’s attention is turning to representation in the media. “TV shows showing the wrong seizure first aid information shows just how much more works needs to be done,” she explains.
“Every time something like that happens it takes us a step backwards.”
Thought to calm the brain and nervous system, lavender is the colour of epilepsy awareness. Cassidy decided to widen this scope so that people could wear whatever shade of purple they wanted to for the day.
There are countless ways to take part in Purple Day, Cassidy adds: “People can hold events like galas or tea parties, schools can get involved by asking the students to wear purple on 26 March and having their local epilepsy agency come in and do a presentation on epilepsy education and seizure first aid.”
Last year’s highlights included all of NASA wearing purple in support of better education on epilepsy. “Astronaut Ricky Arnold posted pics on his social media wearing purple while he was on the international space station,” remembers Cassidy fondly.
It seems the sky isn’t even the limit on Purple Day, so get creative.
You can take part in Purple Day regardless of your age, location or if you have epilepsy.
For Cassidy the best part of the day is seeing photos and videos from people spreading epilepsy awareness around the world. How are you getting involved this year?