Connect and support those living with, or impacted by, epilepsy and improve their independence, quality of life and community participation.
A community where everyone living with or impacted by epilepsy can thrive.
Our Purpose Statement
Epilepsy Association of Calgary is a charitable social service agency established to address community, individual, and familial needs related to epilepsy.
Beginnings and The Early Years (50’s – 60’s)
The Calgary Epilepsy League began as a self-help group and was is incorporated as a Society on December 5, 1955. After many years as the Western Canada Epilepsy Society, the name changed to Epilepsy Association of Calgary (EAC) in 1969. After attempting to operate as a residential service, the Society abandoned this approach and began offering case management and support services in a community setting.
Growth and Development (70’s – 80’s)
In the early 1970’s, the Association hired an Executive Director and began promoting its activities more widely through in-person speaking engagements. Support for employment was secured from Canada Manpower and EAC created a program to help increase participation in the workforce by people living with an epilepsy diagnosis.
A Job Finding Club was added to the suite of programs in 1985 and the original mandate was updated to allow participation by parents of children with epilepsy. The Association ended this period in its history with the introduction of the Taking Control of Your Wellness Skills Development program – still offered to this day. A need for epilepsy education surfaced as an issue during the 1980’s and remains one of our core services.
After a couple of relocations – and a successful two-year capital campaign – on on December 3, 1981 EAC purchased a building formerly located at 4112 4th Street NW. The Calgary Jaycees and Alberta 75 Civic Committee were among the contributors. The decade ended with the introduction of Echo the Penguin – the Association’s logo and mascot. The penguin represented resiliency.
Awards, Recognition and Improved Financial Support (90’s)
During the first part of the 90’s, EAC earned recognition through the Calgary and Area United Way for its efforts to educate the community around epilepsy. This partnership shifted programming over a three-year period to align with community needs and values, and received several Agency of the Year nominations for its commitment to this process.
For four years, a competitive cycling event raised funds and support for EAC from community volunteers and businesses. In 1997, EAC was selected as a beneficiary of the Willow Park Golf Tournament and received $135,000. The Calgary Foundation awarded a grant to support a Teen Theatre Project positively impacting the lives of youth. Extra space in the building owned by EAC was rented to other charities to help provide secure, affordable office space and generate income.
EAC launched the new millennium by becoming a charter member of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance, an ongoing, national collaboration amplifying the voices of local associations across Canada.
Adding to Core Programs (00’s – 10’s)
Funding from United Way of Central Alberta leads to an expansion northward into Central Alberta and the opening of an office in Red Deer. The Epilepsy – Out of the Shadows Into the Spotlight Comedy program launched in partnership with the Cheers Project and with support from the Calgary Foundation. It became a fixture during the early years of the new millennium and was recognized with a nomination for the Peter F. Drucker Award in Non-Profit Innovation for “a novel approach to using humour to both entertain and educate”.
In 2008, the first Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness, as conceived by Cassidy Meagan of Nova Scotia, is promoted by EAC and eventually adopted by all member organizations within the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance. Later that same year, the inaugural Bare Naked Noggins head shave fundraiser (inspired by an earlier similar school fundraiser conceived by Ethan Drage to support a classmate) was held. This fundraiser would become an annual event for the next 11 years, and attracted attention, and participation, from various local media, first responders, celebrities, and sponsors. A need for change, and a global pandemic, put an end to the event’s illustrious run.
Also worth noting is the introduction of the Melanie Grace Memorial Scholarship in 2017. Melanie was an employee of EAC, and just 46 years old when she unexpectedly died in October 2009 of an aneurysm. Adding to the tragedy, she was also six months pregnant and her death also caused the loss of the child’s life.
Today: Renewal and Reconnection
In 2017, after the sale of its building, EAC moved to a location on Macleod Trail SE. Changes to the economic environment became an opportunity for the Association to refocus, strategize, and improve its connections within the medical community, the National Alliance, and other potential partner organizations.
The Board of Directors refreshed its membership and, after thirty years of service to the community, the executive director at the time retired. The new operational leadership completed an organization-wide strategic plan and needs assessment in 2019 to improve the quality and quantity of EAC’s programs and services.
Our focus today is on increasing engagement and empowerment, continuing to strengthen our relationships with clinics, and building a continuum of epilepsy care – all to better serve our community.
In the spirit of collaboration and community, we recently moved into a shared office space with The Parkinson’s Association of Alberta.