By Ian Graham, Thompson Citizen (October 3rd, 2013) (Accessed: October 11th, 2013)
Commentary by Shauna Makie
Just over a month ago, the world celebrated International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day (September 9th). For the community of Thompson, Manitoba, this day in their community offered an opportunity for the members of the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) and several other organizations to join together to explore issues related to FASD. At a community café, the coalition listened to a young woman with FASD share her accomplishments, had access to a resource fair, and an awareness walk.
Chantal McLelland, NRHA chair for the FASD Coalition, highlighted the importance of raising awareness of FASD and how challenging relaying these messages can be due to the misinformation and misconceptions of FASD. The resource fair provided to attendees included displays by people and organizations working with those who have developmental disabilities, including FASD. Foster parents had a spotlight project led by the University of Manitoba Northern Social Work program bringing together conversations around the challenges of raising children with FASD and creating themes in order to help learn new ways to overcome these challenges.
Although the International FASD Awareness Day has passed, the importance for continued awareness is needed long after the t-shirts have been worn and the awareness walkers finish their last stride. McLelland stated that approximately one in 100 children born in the country today are affected by FASD, marking it as the most common disability in Canada.