Drexel Lights Up for National Epilepsy Awareness Month

The trees outside of the Paul Peck Alumni Center.
The trees outside of the Paul Peck Alumni Center.

Drexel University is adding some purple to its blue and gold — but only for this month. In honor of National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM), Drexel’s University City Campus will feature trees lit up with purple lights on Perelman Plaza and Lancaster Walk for the entirety of November.

The colorful campus addition comes from a partnership between The Good Idea Fund, an organization at Drexel that ensures that unspent funds allocated to the University’s various clubs and organizations are used to benefit the undergraduate student body, and the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA).

Camille Prairie, an undergraduate biological sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences, brought the idea of lighting up the trees to the Good Idea Fund and the USGA. Last year, she worked with Drexel’s administration to light up the trees outside of the Paul Peck Center (the same ones lit up this year) with purple lights, but she wanted to make the project, and the purple, even more pronounced for 2017.

She was inspired by the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania’s campaign to bring purple to city skylines during NEAM to show solidarity with those who have epilepsy. In Philadelphia alone, city landmarks like Cira Centre, Ben Franklin Bridge and PECO Lights will have shown purple at some point during the month to raise awareness.

“My goals in raising awareness are to get people that have epilepsy and people that don't talking about what epilepsy is and how it affects people in the world today, in the hope that common myths will begin to be taken down and people will be able to have an understanding of what epilepsy is when they meet someone that has it,” said Prairie. “Having a positive experience when telling others you have epilepsy is very important, yet uncommon to many of us. Epileptics are more prone to suicidal ideation, depression and social anxiety, which is why awareness of epilepsy in the world is a very important topic to talk about.”

The trees on Lancaster Walk.

Prairie had been in touch with the administration and the USGA since July to put on this year’s event, and she connected with The Good Idea Fund a few weeks ago when the cost of expanding the project got to be too much.

“The Good Idea Fund’s turnaround time has been awesome,” said Prairie. “They're wonderful to work with!”

According to Ian Wagner, chairman of The Good Idea Fund, the organization looked to see if the trees being lit would help to raise awareness, and thus meet the goal of the applicant; bring something positive to the undergraduate student body; and comply with the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee and The Good Idea Fund polices.

“The board felt that these requirements were sufficiently met, and that this was a good initiative that is often overlooked on college campuses,” said Wagner, who is a junior legal studies and entertainment arts management dual major. “Our hope is that this will continue on campus into the future, and will help raise awareness for students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community.”

To promote Drexel’s new purple trees, The Good Idea Fund is running an Instagram contest this month asking students to take pictures of the trees and submit them to the @thegoodideafund Instagram account using the hashtags #CampusLights, #NEAM2017 and #Aimforzero by Nov. 24. The three most creative images will be posted on the organization’s account.

Though this the first time that The Good Idea Fund worked to promote purple trees for National Epilepsy Awareness Month, the organization has a history of financially and logistically helping Dragons like Prairie realize their goals for the betterment of the Drexel undergraduate community (hence the name).

In the past two years, The Good Idea Fund twice hosted the “First Bash” Welcome Week event offering new Dragons a night of games and free food and, with the DAC Pack and CAB, cosponsored the Lancaster Walk Basketball Tailgate. The Good Idea Fund has also brought the professional speaker James Robilotta to campus to do talks about networking and leadership.

If you have a good idea, you can contact the Good Idea Fund through its DragonLink page or email. Like Prairie, your dream could be realized with the help of the Good Idea Fund.