Welcome to Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario's E-blast. Your quarterly newsletter from Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario covering the latest in epilepsy news from our clients, our agency, and around the world.
May 2021

Welcome, Summer!

Greetings from the Chief Executive Officer

With sunshine, better weather and summer vacation in sight, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel! We are so hopeful that we can return to in person services, office drop ins, social gatherings and fundraising events in the very near future as we have missed seeing everyone!  Although we have temporarily pivoted to virtual platforms, we remain committed to spreading epilepsy awareness and are so grateful for the support of our Purple Nation in working toward our mission.  We are so proud of all the ways people came together to celebrate Epilepsy Awareness Month! We are certainly better together!

Warm regards,

Michelle Franklin
Chief Executive Officer

Living With Epilepsy

Ava Pitre

Windsor, ON – Ava Grace is a spunky, kind, brave, outgoing, and silly eight-year-old little girl. Ava is also an Epilepsy Warrior. At two years old Ava had her first seizure. Since that day, she has not gone 24 hours without having a seizure. Ava seizes every single night and has been labeled Drug Resistant meaning seizure medication does not work for her.

She has been through countless hospital stays, appointments and testing, leaving her family with no answers as to why this happens. BUT through it all, Ava is brave beyond her years and faces everything with courage and a smile.

Ava was given an anti-suffocation pillow by another local family who raised money for Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario to help families like Ava’s. Since that day, it has become Ava’s mission to help people sleep safe like she does. Ava is continuing to raise money for other families and is asking for the community’s support.

Ava’s Fight Against Epilepsy Campaign in the Windsor-Essex region was a huge success this year. She was able to raise $13,000 towards anti-suffocation pillows!

Great Canadian Giving Challenge

From June 1 – 30, 2021 participate in CanadaHelps’ Great Canadian Giving Challenge and give ESWO a chance to win $20,000, PLUS your donation will be matched by TRY Recycling.

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is an initiative of CanadaHelps. Every $1 donated in June is a chance for ESWO to win $20,000 in a draw.

What $20,000 would mean for ESWO? $20,000 would provide epilepsy education to 400 classrooms across Southwestern Ontario, creating a safe and supportive school environment for children living with epilepsy!

BONUS - thanks to TRY Recycling, you can double your impact! TRY Recycling will match all donations made for the Great Canadian Giving Challenge up to $1,500!! So mark your calendars for June 1 and be ready to donate.

More information about the Great Canadian Giving Challenge:
Donate Now

COVID-19 and Epilepsy

"There are generally no safety concerns for vaccination against COVID-19 as far as epilepsy or its treatment are concerned. Epilepsy doctors encourage their patients to get vaccinated with whichever option that is offered to them. The only exception is epilepsy associated with autoimmune disease or patients taking immune mediated therapy for their epilepsy or other conditions. Such individuals should discuss their eligibility with their own epilepsy doctors."

- Dr. Seyed Mirsattari, ESWO Medical Advisor
"Vaccinating our community is the only way to control the devastating effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, if you have been offered a vaccine based on your age group, please go and get it right away. There are not specific contraindications for people living with epilepsy when it comes to the COVID 19 vaccines available and approved by Health Canada"

- Dr. Andrea Andrade, ESWO Medical Advisor

Welcome Our New Team Members

We are thrilled to announce that we have a new staff member on our ESWO team! Holly has joined us as a Program Coordinator. She is a registered social worker with a specialization in disability studies.  You can find out more about her by reading her bio here. Please feel free to reach out to say hello at

We are also very excited to welcome 2 new summer students (with 3 more joining soon)! Emily will be with us part time over the next couple of months as an Event Planning and Multimedia Communications intern through the MIT program at Western. Fatme is a Social Service Worker Placement Student through Fanshawe College who will be full time until July. We are so grateful for their time, fresh ideas and passion for learning!

March Epilepsy Awareness Month

Thank you for an amazing Epilepsy Awareness Month! March 2021, our community came together to raise awareness in lots of new and exciting ways! 

Thank you to everyone who sent in their purple photos, decorated their doors, classrooms, and homes during the month of March. Check out our website for a list of some of the amazing campaigns throughout the month:
We appreciate everyone sharing their stories. If you’re interested in sharing, please contact

Check out our PurpleNation on our Flickr page (organized by region).

We are so grateful for everyone’s support and so proud to see the awareness that was established throughout the month. We encourage people to continue to spread awareness and share their stories all year long!

H.O.P.E. Award

Each year, ESWO presents a H.O.P.E. award (Helping Out People with Epilepsy) at our Annual Gala. It is awarded to an individual, group of individuals, or organization that has demonstrated compassion and caring for people living with epilepsy. We were pleased to present the 2021 award in March to Techdoz.

Thank you to Techdoz who has allowed ESWO to remain current and thrive in an ever-changing technological world. With the in-kind support of Techdoz, the professionalism of ESWO online events has been enhanced, and client support has been made more accessible. Their staff team works tirelessly to provide prompt knowledge and expertise, addressing any technical difficulties that arise. On behalf of ESWO, thank you, Techdoz for your continuous sponsorship and support.  

Online Mindfulness Program

A Live-Online Mindfulness-based intervention for Families of Children with Epilepsy

Participate in a research study providing an online, 8-week mindfulness-based program which aims to improve stress, help you cope with big emotions and build resilience within the family.

For children (aged 4-10 years) living with epilepsy and their parents.

You will be asked to complete questionnaires about your experience at the start and end of the program. As a thank you, you will receive with a gift card each time.

Principal Investigators: Kathy Nixon Speechley, Ph.D and Karen Bax, Ph.D

For more information, please contact: 
Sarah Wells, Coordinator
519-434-6848 ext. 280

Project UPLIFT

Project UPLIFT is a free program that teaches skills for managing and improving stress, mental health, and quality of life. This program was designed for adults living with epilepsy who may be experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression. UPLIFT takes place via a group phone call or online virtual meeting (groups of 5-8 people) once a week for eight consecutive weeks. Each session is an hour-long. Attending each session is important, as each session builds upon the skills learned the previous week. Please rest assured that the information shared by the group is confidential. We are planning to run several sessions with the first starting at the beginning of June 2021. If you are interested in participating or would like more information please contact Holly O'Neill, the provincial program coordinator, at and indicate which group you are interested in attending.

Group 1: Tuesdays from 4:30pm - 5:30pm, starting June 1, 2021 until July 27, 2021

Group 2: Fridays from 1:30pm - 2:30pm, starting July 2, 2021 until August 20, 2021

Holly will follow up with you to schedule an intake session prior to the sessions to gather information and ensure that the program is a good fit for your needs. Hope to have you join!

Support Group for Teens

Aged 14-17 and living with epilepsy

Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario is excited to announce that we will be facilitating a new online support/social group for teens aged 14-17 living with epilepsy. Open to clients in all ESWO service areas. The group will meet bi-weekly on Tuesdays from 1pm - 2pm, beginning June 15, 2021. The goal of the group is to build peer relationships and community for teens living with epilepsy. We will have planned weekly discussion topics related to epilepsy, as well as offer an opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences. For more information contact Holly at

Epilepsy Links

What's Happening on the Internet

Regional News & Events


Chatham-Kent Drive Thru Ribfest

Join us on the weekend of June 11-13, 2021 at Memorial Arena Parking Lot in Chatham for some of your favourite finger lickin’ BBQ ribs!

Entry by donation to help support ESWO’s Chatham-Kent programming. Cash donations preferable.

*This Chatham-Kent Drive Thru Ribfest is not associated with any other previous Ribfests held in Chatham-Kent.

Dates & Times

Friday, June 11, 2021
12pm – 8pm

Saturday, June 12, 2021
11am – 8pm

Sunday, June 13, 2021
11am – 7pm


Memorial Arena Parking Lot
80 Tweedsmuir Ave W, Chatham

Our Generous and Valued Contributors

Prime Ribber Sponsors

Full Rack Sponsors

CS Organics & Cooking Oil Removal Inc.


Seize the Day London

SAVE THE DATE – Sunday, September 26, 2021
ESWO is planning to host it's 8th Annual Seize the Day Walk/Run. More information to come! Please reach out to if you’re interested in sitting on this year’s event committee.


Seize the Day Windsor

Windsor ESWO is planning to host its 4th Annual Seize the Day Walk / Run in September. More information to come! Please reach out to if you are interested in sitting on this year's event committee.

Copyright © 2014 Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario.
Charitable Registration No.: 11890-0802-RR0001

Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario
797 York Street, Unit 3 | London, ON, N5W 6A8 | Canada

Tel: 519.433.4073 | Fax: 519.433.4079
Windsor Tel: 519.890.6614
Chatham Tel: 519.365.5131

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Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario · 797 York Street · Unit 3 · London, Ontario N5W 6A8 · Canada