The first annual I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo was held on April 29th, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia and was put on by the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ campaign in conjunction with the BC Epilepsy Society, which is a non-profit charitable organization that serves people living with epilepsy in the province of British Columbia.
At the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo, speakers came together from across Canada, the United States and Europe – including lawyers, medical professionals and people living with epilepsy – to share their knowledge and experiences on various topics related to epilepsy, such as Epilepsy 101, Employment Law, Family Law and Custody Law and Depression and Anxiety, during this full-day event on knowledge exchange and health promotion.
Prior to the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo taking place, other events with similar topics taking place in Canada either:
All of the above reasons make the I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo the first international epilepsy expo of its kind in Canada.
Check out a short video of the event below or continue reading to find a recap of the event!
On April 29th, 2019, attendees gathered at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver to learn about epilepsy, neurology, disabilities, mental health and related topics and to hear from inspirational figures, medical professionals, lawyers and many more!
First, Kim Davidson, the Executive Director of the BC Epilepsy Society, welcomed everyone, thanking the sponsors and partners who helped make the day possible; the presenters and speakers who would soon be sharing their knowledge and stories; and all of the attendees. She also mentioned what the BC Epilepsy Society does to support people living with epilepsy and their families in the province of British Columbia and what the I AM A VOICE™ for Epilepsy Awareness campaign does to raise awareness of epilepsy not just in British Columbia and Canada but around the world.
Kim then introduced Councillor Christine Boyle, who said a few words about the event and the BC Epilepsy Society on behalf of the Mayor and City Council of Vancouver.
After this, a representative was introduced to share words on behalf of The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was unable to attend the event in person.
Next, keynote speaker, Christine Jamieson, took to the stage to talk about her struggles with epilepsy and mental health and about how she uses her platforms both as Miss BC 2018/2019 and as Miss Canada 2019 to be a VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™.
After that, Cassidy Megan, the founder of International PURPLE DAY® for Epilepsy Awareness, joined the expo via video chat from Nova Scotia, to discuss the importance of increasing public awareness of epilepsy and the need for all of us to be a VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ in our communities.
Attendees were then treated to the musical stylings of Emma Knelson, a singer/songwriter from Vancouver Island, who sang the first of her two songs of the expo, singing a cover of A Thousand Years.
After this, Amanda Plomp, a marathon runner living with epilepsy, took to the stage to discuss her epilepsy journey as well as her story about running in races and marathons around the world. She mentioned how she is much more than just a person living with epilepsy and how she is much more than just an athlete … she is a VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™.
After that, Fran Turauskis, the founder of Seize Your Adventure, joined the expo via video chat from the United Kingdom. She discussed her epilepsy journey and how doing solo hikes and other adventures post-diagnosis, inspired her to start a website and podcast platform that featured adventure tourism by people living with epilepsy all around the world. She also mentioned her 30 at 30 initiative of doing 30 adventures in the year she turns 30 and invited any attendees who would like to participate – whether in person or remotely – to join her in this adventure!
After a short break, professional golfer, engineer and ordained minister, Tyler Barton joined the expo via video chat from Texas. He discussed being diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age and how he competed to become a 2x World Long Drive champion. He also mentioned the importance of being a VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ to support those living with epilepsy and to increase the public awareness of epilepsy.
After this, a presentation on Depression and Anxiety was done by registered clinical counsellor, Rosalyn Best Clark from Ros Best Counselling. She mentioned that positive mental health is not just influenced by receiving support from others but also by providing support to others and discussed the importance of support groups for people living with epilepsy.
After lunch, a presentation on Family Law, Custody Law and Epilepsy was done by Leena Yousefi from YLaw Group. She provided information on the parental rights of parents living with epilepsy, which was very helpful to many attendees.
After this, a presentation on Employment Law and Epilepsy was done by Jay Spiro from Yeager Employment Law. He provided information which was helpful not just for people living with epilepsy but also for people with other disabilities and/or other medical conditions.
Following a short break, Allison Hegedus, President of Vida Spa and author, took to the stage to discuss her epilepsy story, how she became a VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ and about her career journey from being an esthetician, to a skin care sales rep, to a spa owner and finally to her current role as President of Vida Spa. She also discussed the book that she authored, entitled Unashamed and Unafraid: My Journey with Epilepsy, which will be released in Fall 2019.
Attendees were again treated to the musical stylings of Emma Knelson, who sang the second of her two songs of the expo, singing a cover of Hallelujah.
After this, a presentation on Epilepsy 101 was done by Kelly Anderson, the Epilepsy Surgery Program Nurse in the BC Children’s Hospital Neurology Clinic. She provided an informative talk on what epilepsy is, how epilepsy is diagnosed and treated and provided some important safety considerations pertaining to epilepsy.
The last presentation of the day was on VNS Neuromodulation Therapy and was done by Cameron Finlay from LivaNova. He presented on the implantable technology of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) as a treatment option for epilepsy.
Attendees also got the chance to check out many booths at the event, including a booth by GOLD’S GYM, a seizure virtual reality simulation put on by UCB and a fun photo booth that was enjoyed by many!
We hope that everyone enjoyed the first annual I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo in 2019 and we hope to see everyone at the next I AM A VOICE for Epilepsy Awareness™ Expo in 2020!