School epilepsy plan first

Holly ThompsonManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Year 4 teacher Alicia Stiffle, Hannah's mother Sylinda Van Amerongen, special needs eduction assistant Elizabeth Valentine, Hannah Van Amerongen and Balingup Primary School principal Emma Bancroft.
Camera IconYear 4 teacher Alicia Stiffle, Hannah's mother Sylinda Van Amerongen, special needs eduction assistant Elizabeth Valentine, Hannah Van Amerongen and Balingup Primary School principal Emma Bancroft. Credit: Holly Thompson

Balingup Primary School has become the first in WA to be registered as an Epilepsy Smart School, after a student with severe epilepsy moved to the town.

Principal Emma Bancroft said the program had been implemented at the end of last year after student Hannah Van Amerongen started attending classes.

“She has severe epilepsy and we did not have any knowledge of how to deal with that,” Mrs Bancroft said.

“We decided to work closely with Perth Children’s Hospital and Hannah’s parents, they helped set us up with a program run through Epilepsy WA and we went from there.”

Mrs Bancroft said the program was run online with modules on convulsive seizures and recognising the different types of seizures.

“It involved us developing our emergency management plan and then going through and practising it and we also had some online training with a nurse from Perth Children’s Hospital,” she said.

Hannah’s older sister Abbigail also goes to the school and said the program would be beneficial for her sister.

“Other people my age will know to call the ambulance and what to do to help Hannah and it is good at home too because Mum and Dad will know she is in good hands,” she said.

Special needs education assistant Elizabeth Valentine works with Hannah a few times a week and said it had been confronting when she had first come to the school, but the program had helped.

“Going through this training and the steps of what to do when she does have a seizure has just made seeing and dealing with it a lot more manageable for us,” she said.

Hannah’s mother Sylinda Van Amerongen said there had been nothing like this program at the school in Perth where Hannah used to attend.

“It has really given me peace of mind sending her to school and I also did this course and managed to pick up things I had never been shown before as well,” she said.

“I hope other schools get on board now and are not afraid to educate their staff and students.

“Epilepsy is not rare anymore and it could be life-saving training.”

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