Aiming High with Epilepsy Awareness in Arkansas
My name is Sadie Kirk, and I am a 17-year-old senior at Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am a 2023 Girl Scouts Gold Award Recipient and an ambassador-level Girl Scouts in Troop 6526 in the Girl Scouts - Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas Council. I am also an Epilepsy Ambassador.
My Gold Award project is based on Epilepsy Awareness and Seizure First Aid. This is an issue that has been close to my heart since I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was four years old. My seizures were initially absence seizures—slight brain pauses now and again, but nothing too serious. Then, in 2020, I had my first tonic-clonic seizure. I have had five tonic-clonic seizures since, and I continue to have absence seizures daily because I am drug resistant.
I spent 100 + hours addressing the lack of education and understanding about epilepsy and Seizures to achieve the Gold Award. I worked to educate students and school personnel in the Little Rock School District on Epilepsy Awareness and Seizure First Aid by providing presentations and workshops. I went to an elementary school and read a book called “The Wiggles” about a young boy living with epilepsy, and then I led a discussion about the disorder.
I hosted a Seizure First Aid Training for School Personnel workshop for teachers at Parkview Magnet High School. They gave a lot of positive feedback, and they were happy that I helped equip them to assist someone having a seizure and recognize different types of seizures. I plan to continue offering training throughout Central Arkansas.
I further reached out to my community by giving presentations to Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) meetings. I wanted to debunk the myths about epilepsy and help to destigmatize the disorder. I asked Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office for a proclamation to declare the month of November as National Epilepsy Awareness Month in Arkansas. He agreed, and I got to meet with the governor for a photo opportunity and to tell him in person why epilepsy is important to me.
I spread awareness about epilepsy through interviews with THV11 news reporter and fellow epilepsy supporter Julissa Garza on social media. This helped me to reach even more people across the state of Arkansas.
My Girl Scouts Gold Award will be sustainable by creating a Girl Scouts Epilepsy Awareness and Seizure First Aid Patch Program. This allows Girl Scouts across the United States to receive Seizure First Aid Ready Training, learn more about epilepsy, and earn the patch I designed.
Finally, I have worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of Arkansas Advocacy Committee, of which I am a member, to help get a Seizure Safe Schools Bill passed in Arkansas. I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the bill in both the House Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee. The bill passed in the House and Senate. It was signed into law by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on March 15, 2023. This made Arkansas the twentieth state to have a Seizure Safe Schools Bill.
Later this year, I plan to attend college and then, after graduation, go to medical school with the aim of pursuing a career as a pediatric neurologist specializing in epilepsy.
Reviewed By: Sara Wyen