She’s off to Washington

Homewood teenager will represent Alabama at national conference on epilepsy awareness and advocacy

When she was just six years old, Homewood resident Reed Jeffries, now a junior at Homewood High School, was diagnosed with childhood absence epilepsy. Although she outgrew the disorder, she experienced a tonic-clonic seizure at age 12 and was then diagnosed with primary generalized epilepsy. One of Reed’s younger sisters also has epilepsy, and Reed’s experience has made her a special source of support for her sister. Reed enjoys the responsibility of helping her sister through her journey and loves the idea of being able to encourage and help others as well.

Reed Jeffries, a Homewood High School junior, has lived with epilepsy since she was six years old.

Now, Reed will head to Washington, D.C., for a March 1-3 conference called Teens Speak Up!, and she’ll represent the entire state of Alabama as she receives advocacy training and meets with legislators about epilepsy. She and others from across the country will share their personal stories of living with the disease and will advocate for issues important to the 3.4 million Americans living with epilepsy.

“We’re so excited to have Reed represent the state of Alabama at this year’s conference,” said Sara Franklin, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama. “Reed is an involved, high-achieving student and I know she will be an excellent representative for us. After receiving training at TSU, she will turn that training into action in our state through the Year of Service program by raising funds and helping plan events for the Epilepsy Foundation’s Kids Crew organization.”

Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama executive director Sara Franklin, left, is pictured with Homewood High School junior Reed Jeffries.

Reed will travel to Washington, D.C., for the conference March 1-3 and will meet with the offices of Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones, as well as with Representative Gary Palmer. She has already started raising awareness about epilepsy at Homewood High School by starting a Walk to END EPILEPSY® volunteer club as well as making and selling baked goods to raise money for the local chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation.

“Reed has always been very open about her epilepsy diagnosis and what it means for her,” said Louisa Jeffries, Reed’s mom. “Even though it hasn’t always been easy, she’s had great support from her teachers, coaches, and school nurse. She has a strong interest in learning about the public policy aspect of this advocacy initiative, and a sincere desire to affect positive change for those living with epilepsy.”

Students in Homewood High School’s Walk to END EPILEPSY® volunteer club, which Jeffries helped organize.

According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.

Founded in 1971, Epilepsy Foundation Alabama is a chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation of America, a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States. The Foundation is leading the fight to END EPILEPSY® in Alabama by connecting people to treatment, support and resources; leading advocacy efforts; funding innovative research and the training of specialists; and educating the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. Epilepsy Foundation Alabama seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals with epilepsy and seizures. The organization is guided by a local advisory board. For more information, visit www.epilepsyalabama.org.

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