Washington,D.C.( March 15, 2010)—Young advocates for epilepsy will gather in the nation’s capital to participate in the Epilepsy Foundation’s eighth annual Kids Speak Up! event Tuesday, March 23 through Thursday, March 25. The event will culminate with a congressional briefing hosted by the star of NBC’s hit show Heroes, Greg Grunberg, on Thursday, March 25 at 3p.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center Senate room 200.  

Kids Speak Up! is a grassroots initiative that mobilizes young people with epilepsy between the ages of 8-17 to become advocates and speak out on epilepsy issues. Since the inception of this program, hundreds of youths and their families have traveled to Washington, D.C. to learn how sharing their personal stories with their government representatives can educate these lawmakers about issues important to people with epilepsy. The goal is to improve community services and increase funding for research and education about epilepsy.

“Kids Speak Up!  is about teaching youth the importance of democracy and providing them an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people impacted by epilepsy,” said Eric R. Hargis, president & CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “The program is an extension of how we work with
familes, health care providers, schools, government agencies and legislators to improve how people with epilepsy are perceived, accepted and valued in society.”

In addition to the training program and day on the Hill, the Foundation is also sponsoring a congressional briefing for Hill staff to learn more about epilepsy. Greg Grunberg, a Foundation spokesperson and parent of a son with epilepsy, will highlight the need for increased support of epilepsy research and the importance of public awareness and understanding of the condition.

“I work closely with the Epilepsy Foundation to let everyone know how important it is to talk about epilepsy, and I am very excited to help bring our message to Congress,” said Grunberg. “We are asking our elected officials to expand their support for national epilepsy programs so my son Jake – and all the sons and daughters with epilepsy – can live a life free from discrimination, free from public misunderstanding, and be safe in their communities.”

Epilepsy is the most common neurological condition in children and affects nearly 3 million people in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300,000 children under the age of 15 live with epilepsy in the United States.

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