Clark siblings leading effort for first seizure-smart university in Kentucky

Colby and Luke Birkes, twin brothers from Winchester, are leading the initiative to make Morehead State the first Seizure Smart University in the state.

Through the implementation of training programs provided by the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, this initiative will improve awareness and increase access to care for those with epilepsy.  

“We want to make Morehead State University a Seizure Smart School not only for the first aid aspect, but also to dispel rumors. Some people still think epilepsy is contagious,” Colby said. “Getting people to understand that people with epilepsy can live full and successful lives is our main goal.” 

Over four weeks of training during the Spring 2019 semester, all campus police officers and 50 faculty members were trained in seizure recognition and first aid. Seizure smart trainings will continue during the Fall 2019 semester and will be open to faculty, staff and students. The Seizure Smart curriculum will be included in Resident Advisor training for the new school year.

“Parents worry when their child with epilepsy goes off to college,” Beth Stivers, director of education for the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana, said,  “It is scary to think no one will know what to do if a seizure occurs. By becoming a Seizure Smart School, the student as well as the parent will have confidence and know that the child will be safe.”  

Individuals who complete Seizure Smart training will be able to recognize common types of seizures, identify the types of impacts seizures have on students, list first aid steps for helping students having a seizure and describe basic aspects of social and academic support for students with seizures. 

“We are creating an environment not only where people with epilepsy feel safe coming to college, they can feel accepted and understood,” said Colby.