The Comox Valley FASD Community Network in collaboration with the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Key Worker and the Wachiay Friendship Centre join communities around the world in recognizing International FASD Awareness Day on Sept. 9.
FASD is an umbrella term describing the range of harms caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. These may include physical, cognitive, behavioural, and/or learning disabilities. The effects are life-long.
There is great variability in the characteristics of those affected depending on such factors as the amount and timing of the exposure of alcohol. Effects are often invisible, which leave individuals affected more vulnerable and misunderstood.
While there are no precise statistics on the rates of FASD in Canada, it is estimated that nine in every 1,000 babies are born with FASD yearly and many more are living with it that go undiagnosed. FASD affects individuals from every community, every culture, every race and every socio economic status.
Around the globe, the ninth day of the ninth month is FASD Awareness Day. This particular day and month were chosen to draw attention to the importance of abstaining from alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy.
The focus of FASD Awareness Day is to promote prevention and education for communities about the realities of pregnancy and alcohol, healthy alternatives and support for those affected. Community members, health and social service providers, and local decision makers all have a role to play in creating support, services and policies needed to create a compassionate and effective prevention response.
As individuals with FASD need lifelong support and direction, many parents –birth, foster, extended family and adoptive- are dedicating their lives to help individuals with FASD cope with the demands of daily life. Health, social, educational and justice system services are also involved, at community and provincial levels.
This year, the Comox Valley FASD Community Network along with the FASD Key Worker are hosting a Community Brain Fair this Saturday (Sept. 8) in Simms Millennium Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is a day to celebrate brain diversity, healthy living and healthy brain development. This is a free admission event where all families are encouraged to join us for a family fun day to learn about local services within our community who promote healthy living.
Bounce Mania will be on hand along with plenty of other activities and entertainment for the children and great information for parents and care-givers. We will also be collecting non-perishable goods and donations for families in need.
If you, or someone you know, might benefit from FASD supports you can contact the following community resources for more information:
• CV Family Services Association – Healthy Families Program at 250-871-7577;
• Friday’s Child (a division of the Aboriginal Head Start Program) at 250-334-2477;
• FASD Key Worker at 250-338-7793.
— Comox Valley FASD Community Network