2019 Skill Building Institute in Georgia and EFWorks

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia

This month, we are shining a spotlight on the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia (EFGA) for co-hosting the 2019 Skill Building Institute and supporting people with epilepsy with the EFWorks vocational program.

2019 Skill Building Institute

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From March 24-27, 2019, the Skill Building Institute for the nationwide network of Epilepsy Foundations met in Atlanta, Ga. The Skill Building Institute is an annual event intended to build the capacity of local Epilepsy Foundations to provide improved and comprehensive services to people with epilepsy and their families.

With support from the Foundation’s cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as EFGA, this year’s conference, “Beyond All Limits: Integrating Epilepsy Education, Awareness and Mental Health,” focused on meeting the mental health needs of people with epilepsy, particularly minority and underserved populations.

“Epilepsy itself can be isolating. When you take mental health issues in consideration as well, that is a huge burden,” said Executive Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia Aly Clift. “Learning about mental health resources that are available, and to be able to provide them, is a huge benefit to the programs and services we provide in Georgia.”

Over 100 staff from local Epilepsy Foundations attended the event. In addition to mental health first aid training, attendees learned about self-management programs, the role community health workers can play in case management for people with epilepsy, social media outreach to minority communities, and addressing disparities.

Personal Stories at SBI

A local Atlantan named Timothy shared his story at SBI about how difficult life with epilepsy can be, especially for African American men. After suffering alone after his diagnosis, Timothy felt rejected and abandoned. He suffered from night terrors, felt afraid to go to sleep, and lost touch with family members.

Having nobody to talk to was like freezing at night without a blanket, Timothy said.

Project UPLIFT, a self-management program for people with epilepsy, helped him learn how to better cope with his diagnosis. Project UPLIFT uses cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness to treat depression in people with epilepsy. After participating in Project UPLIFT, Timothy is doing better and is working closely with EFGA to get connected to more resources.

EFWorks

EFWorks is a vocational program, piloted in March of 2017, by EFGA in partnership with UCB Inc. EFWorks is geared towards helping individuals living with epilepsy find gainful employment through a two-part approach: working with clients and employers.

From the client perspective, EFWorks provides services like job readiness training, personal-social adjustment, job placement, and follow-up services all at no cost to the client.

The employer perspective focuses on building strong partnerships with various employers throughout the Metro Atlanta area while educating them about epilepsy and the various incentives that come with hiring an individual with epilepsy.

  • To date, EFWorks has served 145 clients and currently have 30 actively job searching.
  • Partnerships have been created with 80 employers throughout the Metro Atlanta area.
EFWorks has placed 34 individuals in gainful employment since the program’s creation.

EFWorks Success Stories

  • Jennifer came to EFWorks having recently moved from Las Vegas. She made a career for herself working as an accountant for a major casino chain. However, a recent spike in her seizure activity post-divorce forced her to relocate back home to Atlanta with her parents. Her goal was to find a part-time position outside of her field to ease herself back into the labor market. After working with the staff at EFWorks, Jennifer was successfully placed at a café near her new apartment, where she is working as a barista and cashier.
  • Amber was EFWorks first client and successful placement. She came to the Foundation after having been turned away by other vocational agencies due to her having extensive cognitive and physical impairments. She was so excited to participate in job club and worked very hard to obtain the skills necessary for employment. EFGA’s staff was able to secure a nonpaid internship at her local pharmacy, where she was later hired for a permanent position.
  • Peter was working part time at a supermarket chain and was looking to advance his career into management. EFGA was able to advocate on his behalf, and he was soon promoted to a full-time position in his desired department.

Thank you to the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia for co-hosting the Skills Building Institute and supporting the EFWorks program!

Related Links

Authored by: Aly L. Clift and Jody Kakacek PhD on 4/2019

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
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