When Gracie Taliaferro was diagnosed with epilepsy in October of 2021, one of her biggest fears was returning to school without anyone knowing how to help her in a medical emergency.
She decided to spread awareness of epilepsy, a disorder causing seizures, by holding a presentation and seizure first aid training for Independence High School students and staff members. Several sessions were held during the second week of March for each grade level as well as faculty members.
Gracie started the program by sharing her personal story and brought in a representative from the Epilepsy Foundation of America to break down seizures and the first aid involved with them.
“A lot of people didn’t know what to do,” said Taliaferro. “Students thanked me for putting on the presentation and faculty said it was eye-opening.”
One of the biggest takeaways was the concept: “stay, safe, side, time.” When helping a seizing person, stay with them and don’t leave. Adjust the person so they are lying on their side. Keep them safe by removing nearby objects that could harm the seizing person. Finally, time the seizure to see how long it lasts; this determines whether medicine needs to be administered or 9-1-1 needs to be called.
“I hope people were able to learn about seizure first aid and help someone in need,” said Taliaferro, adding that she ultimately hopes to eradicate the fear of epilepsy in the world through education.
Taliaferro has made it her mission to advocate for epilepsy awareness in the community and hopes to continue this by educating her peers when she goes to college in the fall. She also said she would like to give a similar presentation to surrounding districts during her holiday breaks from school.