Raising awareness about epilepsy is his “Scouting Duty”

With epilepsy awareness week fresh on our minds and youth month coming to an end, we just want to shine the light on 13 year old Scout Maximilian ‘Max’ van Heerden. Max has embraced his duty as a Scout and the ethos of community service by raising awareness about epilepsy and supporting his peers.

Max van Heerden is a Scout at the 1st Germans Scout Group in Parktown. He joined the Movement as a Cub in Parkmore when he was 7 years old. Two years later, whilst working on his Leaping Wolf Advancement, he opted to volunteer at an Epilepsy care center as his community service project. Max’s mom also suffers from epilepsy and he wanted to make a real difference.

Linda and Max during the interview on ‘Health Talk’ on SABC.

Max will be 14 on the 31 of July but being young hasn’t deterred him of starting his own NPO together with family friend Linda Diaz Menezes. ‘Epilepsy Awareness SA strives to raise awareness in schools, through public events and by speaking up in the media. Earlier this year Max led 400 people on a 5 km march through Sandton in Johannesburg for world epilepsy purple day. He was supported by 33 Scouts and a number of Scouters.

Simultaneously, he is also the purple day youth ambassador and goes into schools to talk about what epilepsy is and to teach his peers what do to if a friend needs assistance. He will continue in this role until it’s time to mentor the new ambassador in 5 years time. ” It is my duty as a Scout to give back to others”, says Max.

“Max is not academic but rather a practical guy”, explains his mom Tania van Heerden. “He loves all things gardening and farming, which he also uses to give back to others. He recently donated a huge pumpkin to a nearby temple.  I also feel that Max has learnt so much at Scouts! Especially from his leaders Thomas Helmrich and Caitlin Balt. They have taught him so many skills and I applaud them for their patience and continuous positive reinforcement. Managing teenagers is not always easy as they often try to push their boundaries. I’m grateful to them for never giving up on my Max and would highly recommend scouts for ALL children. It’s the most inexpensive extramural in the world and the most fun a child will have in their life time.”

  • For more information about Max’s charity Epilepsy Awareness SA, click here.
  • To view full interview about Epilepsy featuring Max on SABC’s Health Talk, click here.