The past two days have been a whirlwind of activities in Lisbon, Portugal all focused on inspiring the epilepsy community while educating the general public.
Sunday morning began with an event at Casa da Cerca, a contemporary art center located in the old part of Almada, with one of the most outstanding views over the city of Lisbon and the Tagus River. Built between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, Casa da Cerca was the manor house of a recreational farm, known as “Palácio” or “Quinta da Cerca”. Besides the view and architecture, the facility houses a unique botanical garden that grows plants all used for art: paper, dyes, brushes, etc.
Children with epilepsy and their parents arrived at Casa da Cerca to check in for a week-long workshop at the facility. In a small auditorium that opened to incredible views of Lisbon, Phil spoke about his journey with epilepsy, the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, and challenged everyone in attendance to consider ways they could live fuller lives, with the necessary safety measures in place. After a question and answer session, there was time for nautical activities, such as knot tying and flag making, before coming back together for the One More Step Challenge. We were thrilled to welcome a large group of Virtual Shipmates to the crew, who have decided to try to do things like learn to ride a bike, travel the world, receive their driver’s license, and help educate others about epilepsy.
The Sail For Epilepsy crew then came back to Doca de Alcantara where the boat is docked and were hosted by the Portuguese League Against Epilepsy (LPCE) so Phil could speak to a new crowd about his journey with epilepsy, while attendees also learned about seizure first aid, how to tie knots, the use of signal flags on board boats, and were encouraged to take the One More Step Challenge. Some of these new Virtual Shipmates will strive to help their son learn how to swim, to participate in the Olympics, learn how to speak multiple languages, and enroll in medical school. Due to the proximity of the event to the boat, we were also able to take small groups down to the dock to see the boat more closely and to see the names of Virtual Shipmates who had previously joined the crew. It was a wonderful afternoon speaking with people in the epilepsy community as well as those interested in sailing adventures.
Yesterday Phil was welcomed by the Instituto de Medicina Molecular for a lunch with iMM students, followed by meetings with researchers to learn about their work and tour the labs. He then gave a lecture about the Sail For Epilepsy mission as well as some of the research he oversees, focusing on glial support cells and their role to suppress seizures. The day was capped off by a reception for networking and conversation, on the iMM Terrace.
We are extremely grateful to all of our hosts in Lisbon who worked with us to put on these rewarding events to support the local epilepsy community and raise awareness about epilepsy. We have forged many new connections that we look forward to continuing in the future.