Plainville Community Schools, 47 Robert Holcomb Way, Plainville CT 06062, (860)793-3200

Plainville Student Selected To Attend National Epilepsy Conference

Plainville High School student Heather Saunders has been selected to attend the Epilepsy Foundation's Kids Speak Up! Conference in Washington DC April 1 through April 3, 2012. One student per state is selected each year to attend the annual conference. According to information from the Epilepsy Foundation, during the three day program, attendees and their families will learn how to speak up and speak out to Congress and other local policymakers regarding ways to bring more awareness about what it means to live with Epilepsy. The conference will feature training sessions, informative and inspirational speakers, special programs for teens, and opportunities to interact with fellow attendees.

Heather's mother, Paula Saunders commented, "The Epilepsy Foundation's Kids Speak Up! Conference is a wonderful opportunity for Heather to help bring awareness to our community about Epilepsy. As with many things, awareness and education can bring acceptance. I am very proud of the way she has handled the challenges she has had throughout her life. She is a great inspiration to me."

Saunders, a sophomore at Plainville High School, was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a toddler. She explained that being an epileptic has had its good and bad points over the years. "On the good side, I have had the opportunity to attend summer camp over the past few years that I really like. At camp, which is for kids with Epilepsy, I can do lots of things like swimming, archery, and rock climbing, that I can't usually do during the year. The camp counselors are great and the camp is equipped so that campers can safely participate in all of the fun activities," she explained. To help defray the cost of attending summer camps in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Heather makes and sells her own jewelry. "Last year I raised $400 towards camp from the sale of the jewelry that I made, and hope to do the same thing this year."

Heather also explained the everyday challenges of living with Epilepsy, and the stigma that can be associated with it. "I wish people had a better understanding of Epilepsy. I and people who have Epilepsy are like everyone else. At times I am shy and it's hard to open up to people about Epilepsy. I think sometimes when others hear about Epilepsy and seizures, they back away." Saunders explained that when she was in elementary school, the seizures stopped for almost three years. Today they are controlled by medication but she still has seizures, as recently as this past September, and the challenges remain. "At the conference in April, I hope to meet new friends and learn about ways to increase awareness about Epilepsy so people have a better understanding about it overall."

"I can't think of a better representative than Heather to attend this conference. She is a strong, caring and positive young lady. Her leadership at the conference is something she and her family should be very proud of. We look forward to her sharing what she learns with members of our school and community," said Plainville High School Principal, Steven LePage.

-Posted on February 28, 2012 at 11:01 AM

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