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International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Day – September 9, 2016

On September 9—the ninth day of the ninth month—people all over the world recognize International FASD Awareness Day as a reminder of the lifelong effects that drinking during pregnancy can have on a person. It’s also a day to celebrate those who have FASD and to highlight the services that are available. 

Join us on September 9 at noon to meet our team of FASD diagnostic coordinators, key workers and FASD coalition members. They will talk about FASD and hand out stress relievers in the shape of brains with the message “I learn differently” at the following location:

Interlake-Eastern RHA Corporate Office, Sunova Centre, 233A Main Street, Selkirk

“There is no known level of alcohol that is considered safe for a developing fetus. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is a risk factor and can affect a child’s development in a number of ways,” said FASD diagnostic coordinator Sherisse Picklyk Dear. “Individuals with FASD have many strengths and gifts. The support and information that comes from an assessment goes a long way to helping kids reach their full potential.”

FASD diagnostic coordinators work with the Manitoba FASD Center to screen referrals and to ensure diagnostic criteria is met, while providing support through assessment. Key workers offer in home intensive support to caregivers with children or youth up to age 21 who have FASD or confirmed prenatal alcohol exposure, and help families understand FASD. The MB Key Worker program offers services to families living in Selkirk or rural communities within a one-hour drive.

Devon Ungurain, FASD diagnostic coordinator, said she is often asked how FASD can still occur when the link between alcohol consumption and FASD is widely known.

Ungurain explained there are many complicated reasons for drinking during pregnancy, including addiction, believing inaccurate information or women not knowing they are pregnant.

“Recognizing that each woman’s life experiences and pregnancies are different can help us understand how a child can be diagnosed with FASD,” she said.

Since 2010, FASD diagnostic coordinators have connected with over 350 caregivers seeking information, education and assessment for children and youth living in the Interlake and Eastern regions.   

The FASD team is scheduling sessions at local schools to present Visions and Voices, an adult speakers bureau devised of folks living with FASD.  Visions and Voices speakers will provide an opportunity for students to learn more about FASD from a personal perspective and about respecting diversity amongst their peers. They also locally host Building Circles of Support, an eight week informational series on FASD.

Join the FASD team on September 15, at the HEW Primary Health Care Centre (6:30  PM to 7:30 PM) for a viewing of ‘A Place where I Belong’, a film featuring Pine Falls resident who is living with FASD, Chris Martin who will also be in attendance for a Q and A session after the video.

For more information and to contact a speaker, contact:
Lita Hnatiuk, communications associate, Interlake-Eastern RHA, 204.785.4765, lhnatiuk@ierha.ca

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