Scouts raising awareness

FAIRMONT – The goal for eighth-graders Sadie Sandersfeld and Ramsey Freeman is to make their fellow classmates and the community “seizure smart.”

Along with using the cause as a Girl Scout Silver Awards project, the cause is personal. At 18 months, Sandersfeld was diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy. It affected her through her preschool years, but she was fortunate enough to outgrow it. But the memories of epilepsy were re-awakened when Sandersfeld’s mother, Barb, had a student in her class also dealing with epilepsy.

“Some people don’t realize they have it,” Barb Sandersfeld said. “Part of their project is teaching about how it’s diagnosed. If someone suffers from more than two seizures, doctors usually request a CAT scan and an MRI in order to find out in which areas of the brain the seizures are occurring, so they can determine what type of epilepsy it is.”

As part of the project, both girls have been working in conjunction with the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. There are several parts to their project, but so far the most time-consuming has been making purple “friendship” bracelets for children who receive an epilepsy diagnosis. The bracelets will be donated to medical facilities to distribute to children.

“We were going to do for all the students, then found out how long each bracelet took to make,” Sadie Sandersfeld said.

“Each one takes like 20 minutes,” Freeman added.

The idea for the bracelets came from a trip the girls took to the 100-year Girl Scout anniversary in Savannah, Ga., last summer.

“Braiding was our past time on the bus,” said Freeman’s mother, Stacy. “We were braiding bracelets, braiding each other’s hair.”

Originally, the girls hoped to distribute T-shirts, but they soon realized the expense would not be sustainable. But in making of the bracelets, there is also an opportunity to receive help from younger Scouts.

The big push for Sandersfeld and Ramsey’s project will be seen in late March

“There’s a national recognition day for epilepsy that’s held on March 26,” Sandersfeld said. “We plan to go to City Council and ask the city to proclaim it ‘Epilepsy Awareness Day.'”

Also on March 26-27, the girls plan to present information to teachers and students about epilepsy awareness, and being “seizure smart.” The girls have assembled classroom kits for teachers, and hope to hand out purple water bottles to some younger students.

So far, Sandersfeld and Freeman have surpassed the 50 hours of required time the Silver Award project requires.

“They’ve attended day-long workshops, watched videos on epilepsy; it’s become a family project,” Barb Sandersfeld said.

“Even the husbands and brothers have gotten involved,” Stacy Freeman added. “We’ve spent a few evenings now just sitting around braiding bracelets.”