People With Epilepsy Encouraged To Submit Artwork

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Coping with Epilepsy

When coping with an illness or disease, many people have found they can best express themselves and transcend barriers they face trying to describe the condition to others through artwork.

Now in its fifth year, the Expressions of Courage(R) National Art Contest, sponsored by Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Inc. in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation, hopes to raise awareness of epilepsy and encourage those living with the disorder to illustrate the emotions they draw upon when facing the challenges caused by the condition.

The contest kicks off today for people of all ages who have been diagnosed with epilepsy. People with epilepsy are invited to illustrate their interpretation of living with the disease through art, a powerful means of expression and considered by many to be an important component of living with a chronic disease. Entries will be accepted through July 16, 2007. Judges will review artwork and announce winners in November in commemoration of National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Winning artwork may be displayed as part of a national traveling exhibition comprised of nearly 25 winning entries selected by curators from the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. Winning artwork also will be featured on the contest Web site and included in a calendar, coffee table book or greeting cards, available for viewing at local Epilepsy Foundation offices and participating physician offices nationwide.

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"Over the past five years, the Expressions of Courage contest has been tremendously successful, and each year, we're excited to see new creative artwork that demonstrates the strength and courage of people with epilepsy," said Eric Hargis, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. "The artwork reinforces the talent and accomplishments of those in the epilepsy community, and provides people with a forum for sharing their own personal stories of hope and freedom."

Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system, affecting approximately 50 million people worldwide with as many as 200,000 Americans diagnosed for the first time each year.

Epilepsy can develop at any time in life, but there is a particular susceptibility in young children and the elderly. Currently, there is no cure for epilepsy; however, seizure medications help control seizure activity in the majority of people with this condition.

Dotty Pedi, a 41-year-old winner in the 2006 Expressions of Courage contest said, "It's important to me that society gains a greater acceptance of people living with epilepsy. This contest not only allows me to express myself creatively, but by raising awareness, it also helps fight the stigma associated with epilepsy."

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