On October 24, 1966, Elanor McLean, whose child was diagnosed with epilepsy, hosted the first support meeting for London area families living with seizures. The informal group, called “Concerned Parents”, met regularly to discuss their children’s epilepsy. Eventually, stakeholders in the region formed Epilepsy Ontario’s Midwest Chapter, which ran an action group, a parent group, and a recreational/social group. Their first office open on London’s Dundas Street in 1977 and the organization hired staff to promote a public education program targeting primary and secondary schools.
The agency took a major step forward in 1983 and passed its first constitution as Epilepsy London and Area, serving London-Middlesex, Elgin, and Oxford counties. Since 2001, Epilepsy London and Area expanded to include Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, and Windsor-Essex. To reflect the larger service area, Epilepsy London and Area became Epilepsy Support Centre.
Since passing its first constitution 30 years ago, The Centre has focused on enhancing the lives of people who are affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders by providing a network of services that educate, support, and build community awareness. Still tied to its roots in the original “Concerned Parents” group, Epilepsy Support Centre helps families cope with the challenges of living with epilepsy. School advocacy and a summer camp are two programs that develop life skills in children and keep students in school where they can thrive. The Centre also continues the public education work started by the early staff. Only now, evidence based programs Thinking About Epilepsy and Brain Matters: An Introduction to Neuroscience are used throughout the service area. These programs have reached 35,000 students in the last 10 years. The Centre continues to work in partnership with the Epilepsy Program at London Health Sciences Centre to ensure that the non-medical needs of persons living with epilepsy are identified and supported.
With six staff members, ten board members, and a team of 420 volunteers, Epilepsy Support Centre is thriving. The Centre now serves over 1000 registered families in Southwestern Ontario. As we celebrate our 30th birthday, we are focused on our vision: a community free of barriers where persons affected by epilepsy and seizure disorders are empowered and supported to live a life of dignity, self worth, and hope.