The epilepsy adviser for Epilepsy Waikato Charitable Trust (EWCT), Maria Lowe, was presented with a Civic Award by Hamilton's mayor Andrew King on December 14.

One of the 'distinguished dozen' who received the prestigious award that day, Maria's was for her "outstanding contribution to Hamilton with services to health and the community", especially her "unswerving" commitment to the needs of those with epilepsy in the Waikato region.

The award topped off a very successful year for EWCT.

In August, EWCT initiated a parliamentary petition relating to improving access to the ketogenic diet.

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The petition was presented to Parliament on October 16 by Tim Macindoe, patron for EWCT, with over 500 signatures. The petition requested that a ketogenic dietitian and support programme be funded by the Waikato DHB to help those people living with intractable epilepsy in the Waikato region. A further submission was presented to the Health Committee (of Parliament) in November.

Currently around 35 per cent of people living with epilepsy have no seizure control using current anti-epileptic medications.
EWCT supports the option of the ketogenic diet, which can help with epilepsy in many cases, especially with children, being made available to them within the public health system.

In November, EWCT ran its awareness month. As well as taking part in this year's Round the Bridges fun run/walk to promote understanding, support, and affirmation for those living with the epilepsy condition, EWCT developed a very popular "community postcard project".

Every day during the month a new 'postcard', with a photo and comment from someone living with epilepsy, was posted on the EWCT website and facebook page. This was the first time such an initiative, where people with epilepsy can make themselves heard, had been undertaken.

The postcards and their messages can be seen at https://ewct.org.nz/postcard-project/