SA urged to give a ‘hand’ to stroke survivors

South Africans are being challenged in the month of October to become advocates of stroke awareness and lend a hand to the survivors of stroke by learning to recognise the tell-tale signs of an brain attack while sharing the knowledge that enables rapid, effective response.

 World Stroke Day on Sunday, October 29 is being followed a day later (30 Oct) by the launch of a South Africa awareness campaign designed to destigmatise and demystify stroke by sharing relevant information with the public.

 The Turquoise Glove Initiative (TGI) campaign is run by the Stroke Survivors Foundation (SSF) with backing from King Edward School (KES), Adams & Adams Attorneys (IP Live Team) and Alexandra Clinic.

 Stroke – an injury to the brain or brain attack – is widely misunderstood, says George Scola, founder of SSF, a registered NPO formed by stroke survivors for stroke survivors.

 “There is urgent need for a campaign like this,” notes George Scola, “as so many misconceptions surround stroke. Some communities still believe stroke is evidence of witchcraft. Others wrongly believe women are immune.”

 “Awareness is low and information sparse. This must change.”

 TGI enables the public to show solidarity by wearing a turquoise glove for a day, with an example being set this year by campaign supporters KES, selected corporates and the Alex Clinic.

 Those taking up the glove only use the ungloved hand for the day, thereby experiencing the one-sided lack of function that can result from stroke.

 The TGI initative is used to create awareness, support and raise funds for SSF in the same way as pink ribbons create awareness for breast cancer.

 The campaign’s educational message focuses on B.E.F.A.S.T (balance, eyes, face, arm, speech, time) as the signs of stroke include lost balance, blurred vision, a drooping face, arm weakness and slurred speech, while time is crucial for effective intervention.

 “Most stroke survivors may receive in-hospital speech, occupational and physical therapy. But on discharge there is little emotional and life skills support. SSF is addressing this need by creating a network of support groups. Greater public support will help us grow the network.”

 KES is driving youth awareness by taking up TGI. Pupils have also created their own youth awareness video, showing that stroke even afflicts the young. See video

 Alex clinic is hosting a stroke campaign event on launch day (30 Oct), inviting community members to learn about healthy living as a stroke defence. The clinic is also setting up community stations at which people can have their blood pressure taken and sugar glucose and body mass index measured as a guide to stroke risks.

 The selected corporates will take up the turquoise glove for an hour on launch day.

 Further information is available on the SSF website (

 Says George Scola: “It’s vital we grow our database so we can help more people. We therefore call on stroke survivors and families to share their stories of survival and recovery by emailing

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 “Take this opportunity, take up the glove and advocate for stroke awareness.”