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A key to reducing the stigma around epilepsy is educating as many people as possible about this disorder. Recently we started to ask, how can we amplify our message beyond those people we meet during our port stop events? Could we invite the people we meet to be our spokespeople?

Teaching the students in October

We piloted such an amplification strategy when we met with students in a high school in Agadir, Morocco. Using their ideas, they delivered our message to an additional 3,500 people in person and countless more on social media.

In late October, Sail For Epilepsy had the pleasure of being hosted by Lycée Francais International Agadir, a private high school located in Agadir, Morocco. About 70 students, during a 2-hour presentation, learned about the causes and treatments of epilepsy. (Read about our visit). Additionally, they were taught the basics of how to help someone who is having a seizure. We then challenged them to brainstorm ways they could communicate what they had learned to other members of their community.

Zoom presentation from the students in December

This week we held a Zoom call with these students to find out how they had met this challenge and they summarized their substantial effort. (Click to view their report) They broadcast information about seizure first aid by:

  • Displaying seizure first aid posters, in French and Arabic, in front of hospitals, at pharmacies, and in schools
  • Posting the information to the Instagram accounts of high school clubs, the personal accounts of students, and a local physician’s account with over 268k followers
  • Encouraging friends in other countries to post the same information to their social media accounts and share with their classmates
  • Writing an article for their school newspaper
  • Presenting the information to a local association that was led by a student’s mother
  • Providing the information to the librarian of an elementary school who then devoted an hour of her class to explain about epilepsy and seizure first aid to a group of 4th and 5th graders
  • Talking to relatives about what they had learned
Library class
Posters at a hospital
Poster at school
Posters at a pharmacy

While the number of people reached through social media efforts was not calculated, the students felt that for every student, they were able to reach another 50 people with what they had learned. We were pleased that the seizure first aid posters we created and shared with the students for this project were effective for people 4th grade aged all the way to adults.

Sharing the information on social media

As we have found by speaking openly about epilepsy throughout this project, several students shared that they now knew people close to them that have epilepsy, whether it be a sister, uncle, or friend. We were encouraged by this information, as there is a significant stigma associated with epilepsy in Morocco. The more that people can be accepted and supported, the better treatment they will be able to receive and hopefully a higher quality of life achieved.

Our goal is for every attendee of our events to share what they learned with at least 10 people. By challenging these students and by the success of their efforts, our goal was far exceeded, and we are thrilled with the result.

This project was a pilot for us, as we intend to continue to seek ways to amplify our message of inspiration and education about epilepsy and seizure first aid. In 2023, we will hold a series of events along the West Coast of the United States and will again challenge event participants to help us broadcast what they learn within their communities and families. We will use what the students taught us.

Do you have ideas to help with this amplification strategy? Send us your thoughts to [email protected]

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