An Edmond middle school student has been chosen to speak on Capitol Hill about epilepsy.

Nathan Shadid, a Sequoyah Middle School seventh-grader, and 19 youth from across the country get to go to Washington, D.C., as part of Kids Speak Up!

Kids Speak Up! gives children with epilepsy and their parents an opportunity to visit Washington, to raise awareness about epilepsy, to talk congressmen about the need for a cure and to tell their stories.

Nathan said he is looking forward to seeing the capital city, but the trip has a greater purpose.

“At first, I thought it really wasn’t that big of an issue,” he said. “Then I realized that Washington D.C. is a place where not everybody can go everyday.”

Kids and schools need to know more about epilepsy, Nathan said. And he would like to see a program like DARE for epilepsy. He also would like to meet other Edmond youth who have epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a generic term used to define a family of seizure disorders. A person with recurring seizures is said to have epilepsy. A seizure is a brief disturbance of electrical activity in the brain.

The World Health Organization estimates that 40-50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.

A lot of people erroneously think the condition is contagious, Nathan said.

In about 70 percent of cases there is no known cause, the Epilepsy Foundation reports. Known causes include brain tumor, stroke, head trauma, poisoning, meningitis and maternal injury.

Nathan began having seizures at age eight, said his mother, Renae Shadid. Nathan’s faith, family and friends have impacted his life, Nathan said. Renae said school personnel have been wonderful too.

Renae said Nathan is a typical, active youngster who enjoys creating, singing and, to help him keep focused, he is pursuing a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Nathan’s twin sister Nicole said she helps him with his homework and tries to encourage him when he’s feeling low. When he goes to Dallas to see a specialist he always thinks of her first and buys her a gift.

“I’m just really glad he gets to go to Washington,” Nicole said. “Maybe he can help others.”

Classmate and close friend Michael Filippelli said it’s no big deal when Nathan has a seizure.

“How he handles it and stuff shows me that he won’t stop trying, that he won’t stop in the middle of it,” Michael said.

Renae said Nathan inspires his family too.

Kids Speak Up! is part of the Public Policy Institute. Children are selected by the foundation to take part in the program, which will take place March 28-30.

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