Spreading Epilepsy Awareness in "Non-Epilepsy" Spaces
Last updated: October 2023
For this year's Essence Festival of the Culture, I was able to have my first vendor booth for my epilepsy nonprofit, the Saving Grace Epilepsy Foundation. The Essence Festival is an annual event that combines music performances, speakers, and conversations about gender, race, culture, and art. The Saving Grace Foundation is my nonprofit, and our mission is to help those living with epilepsy, with a focus on workplace discrimination, job placement, and seizure safety education.
Here are the steps that I took to get a booth at the festival. As well as the experience of teaching seizure safety at the event – a "non-epilepsy" space. Which is where we need to spread the word the most!
Applying for an epilepsy education booth
It was important to me to have a booth at Essence of Culture because this is one of the biggest American American festivals. It attracts thousands of people to this 1 festival and epilepsy affects around 400,000 African American people.
Epilepsy awareness is vital, especially in these spaces where no one is talking about it. I received an overflow of questions and so many people asked about what to do if someone had a seizure. People were really interested in learning about seizure safety. As a matter of fact, there was a festival attendee who had a seizure on the other side of the conference – making it all the more clear that a seizure can happen anywhere, at any time.
Spreading epilepsy awareness where it's needed
There were also a lot of people who did not know what epilepsy was, but they knew what a seizure was. And our booth was there to help explain more about the condition and those living with it.
And the most important message we shared what was that anyone could have epilepsy. But you can still live a normal life with epilepsy.
Applying for a festival booth
I honestly envisioned myself being a vendor for Essence this year. I watched the Essence Instagram and website faithfully for updates on vendor information. One day ,I happened to check the website out and the vendor applications were open. I applied immediately. I was so excited about the process.
Let's just say I'd be lying if I said I wasn't checking my email every day for a "yes" or "no" to my application. Then one day in June I received an approval email. I was so happy, I started jumping up and down in my bed. I immediately called my mom, my boyfriend, and my friends to tell them the good news. From there, I had to pay a vendor fee and obtain insurance.
Partnering with the Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center
I'm so thankful to be affiliated with the Epilepsy Foundation of America. They introduced me to the people from the Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center (SELAHEC). This introduction led to my partnership with them for the Essence Festival of the Culture.
We were given a 10 x 10 booth. I was looking for creative ways to make my booth stand out and be interactive. I eventually landed on big Jenga blocks, which I painted purple. I'm no stranger to a good arts and craft project.
Calling in the troops
A few days leading up to Essence, I still needed people to help me run the booth. So I called on my village, which was my family and friends who were able to help.
My mom, my godchild, my aunt, and my boyfriend's mother were scheduled the entire weekend with me. As well as a few ladies from the Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center (SELAHEC). The day before the festival began, the ladies from SELAHEC helped me with setting up the booth and bringing lots of informational pamphlets about epilepsy to the booth.
Teaching seizure safety to a new audience
The festival was June 29 through July 2. During the festival, we were able to meet so many people with epilepsy, as well as teach seizure safety to anyone who would join us! This allowed us to spread the word about seizure first aid to an audience who might not learn about it otherwise.
Overall, people wanted to know about epilepsy and what to do when a seizure occurs. This was an amazing experience. I'm so happy for the people who took time out of their day to volunteer. And I'm happy whenever we can spread epilepsy awareness – that's always a good day for me!
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