Paige Tyler is on a mission to de-stigmatise a health condition that she refuses to let control her life.
The Whangarei 8-year-old has four types of epilepsy and takes two different types of medicine to control it but she doesn't want that to affect the way she lives.
"I normally forget that I have epilepsy because I go to school, I do sports like netball, soccer, hockey and I like to dance as well."
The self-proclaimed hip hop dancer says as long as she has a good sleep and takes her medication every day, she still manages to have a lot of fun.
Paige wants to let more Northlanders know about epilepsy so that they can gain the confidence to help her and others like her if they were to have a seizure.
"It's not scary but I'd like to tell you more about it so that you know how it feels if your friend or your family has it," she says.
Like most people with the condition, Paige is constantly aware of being careful.
"When I go play outside now I always have 100 per cent amount of fun. I just have to be aware of certain things like the sun, flashing lights or getting too tired because that can make me sick."
Rather than thinking negatively about her condition, Paige is proud to share it with her mother who also has epilepsy.
"I don't know many people with epilepsy, except my mum but I would love to meet some more people with it because that would be great," she says.
Seizure Support co-ordinator Elaine Goldthorpe says many people with epilepsy feel isolated and their family members are often under constant stress.
"We are here to help."
One of the barriers people with epilepsy have to deal with is the lack of opportunity to go swimming or encounter the ocean, due to a very real fear of drowning during a seizure, she says.
With this in mind the team at Seizure Support has organised a special day trip on March 9 for people with epilepsy and their family to encounter the ocean in a safe and fun environment.
The trip includes the opportunity to visit Northland's R. Tucker Thompson tall ship and have a go at being a captain for the day.
"While enjoying the ocean waves, you will be given the opportunity to discuss any health concerns with specialists on board and ask those questions you feel too nervous to ask when in the doctor's surgery," says Elaine.
The boat will leave Paihia at 3pm and transport will be arranged from Whangarei for those who cannot drive. The cost is a $10 donation per person.
Contact 432 0532, go to seizuresupport.org.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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