FASD Awareness Day hits Prince Rupert mall

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) information will be available at Rupert Square Mall on Friday, Sept. 9 starting at 9 a.m.

FASD characteristics in an infant.

The disorder is prevalent in Prince Rupert, but there is currently not much awareness among the public about it.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or FASD, occurs when a mother drinks alcohol during her period of pregnancy. The disorder causes cognitive and physical disabilities with the child, and some effects can include poor coordination, low intelligence, smaller head size, issues with height and weight and potential behavioural problems.

FASD is preventable – the pregnant mother should not consume any alcohol during the course of her pregnancy. Scientists have found no safe amount that is consumable.

Here in Prince Rupert, North Coast Community Services’ Cathy Campbell, who works as a pregnancy outreach worker, has teamed up with other community members, including Success by 6’s Kate Toye, and Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain among others, to bring awareness and preventative measures to the disorder.

On Friday, Sept. 9 at 9 a.m., Campbell, Toye and other community members will have a table set up at Rupert Square Mall, designed to answer any questions the community has and will distribute brochures and other materials to enlighten the public about the disorder and how to prevent it. Sept. 9 is International FASD Awareness Day.

At 9:09 a.m., Anne Falvo and the Annunciation Church will ring its bells to bring more exposure to the cause.

“The number nine was chosen for International FASD Awareness Day to represent the nine months of pregnancy,” said Toye this week.

Mayor Brain or a city councillor will also read a proclamation that the city has prepared regarding FASD and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice or a representative of hers is also invited.

“We encourage all of our families to reach out and use the resources provided by Northern Health. Education and awareness like FASD Awareness Day are great tools to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in our community, and to support the families who live with it,” said Mayor Brain on Tuesday.

Rice added that it’s important to have a safe space in the community for people with questions.

“Many people have heard the saying: it takes a village to raise a child, which is a notion we can all agree on. I think we can take one step further by encouraging our communities to care for women who are pregnant by providing safe spaces and support during pregnancy,” said Rice.

“As a compassionate citizenry we have the capacity to create a safe environment for individuals with FASD or other brain-based disabilities to reach their full potential.”

To learn more about the disorder, visit the table at the mall on Sept. 9, which will be set up near the escalators, or contact Campbell at ccampbell.nccs@citywest.ca