FASD Awareness Day 2004

Yellowknife - Health Canada

The FASD Family Support Program runs Living and Learning with FASD, a
    project of the Yellowknife Association for Community Living,
    sponsored by Health Canada.

Booze and babies don't mix: Families face lifelong struggle....

    PUBLICATION        Yellowknifer
    DATE               Friday, September 17, 2004
    BYLINE             By Alex Glancy Northern News Services

    HEADLINE: Booze and babies don't mix; Families face lifelong struggle
              with results of pre-natal drinking

    No one knows how many cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder there
    have been in Yellowknife: No studies have been done, no results

    But for Kathy Paul-Drover, co-ordinator of the FASD Family Support
    Program, it's a simple thing.

    "You just have to look down the street to see that it's a problem,"
    she said.

    Last week was Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Week in Yellowknife,
    and Sept. 9 was International FASD Awareness Day. Paul-Drover and her
    colleagues spent the week running events and raising awareness.

    Huge success

    Marjorie Matheson-Maund, family project co-ordinator with the
    Yellowknife Association for Community Living, spent Thursday at a
    stall in front of the post office.

    With the help of respite services co-ordinator Mimi Kennedy and
    volunteer Janet Diveky, Matheson-Maund handed out pamphlets, magnets,
    balloons and symbolic knots.

    "It's gone really well," she said of FASD Week. "I think we've gotten
    the message out.

    "We've probably given info to more than 500 people in three days."

    Diveky handed out candies to passers-by.

    "Have a butterscotch candy - the only scotch that's safe when you're
    pregnant," she said to everyone who stopped.

    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a term used to describe a
    wide-range of physical and mental birth defects caused by alcohol
    consumption during pregnancy.

    These can include brain damage, lack of impulse control, trouble
    expressing feelings and emotions and poor judgment.

    "It causes brain damage, it's life-long and that's the bottom line,"
    said Paul-Drover.

    And yet, as she emphasized, FASD is 100 per cent preventable.

    It is unclear how much alcohol it takes to result in fetal effects;
    factors like genetic susceptibility and maternal health also play a

    However, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, it is
    clear that binge drinking - more than five drinks in one sitting -
    and frequent drinking - more than seven drinks a week - pose the
    greatest risk to a fetus' health.

    Paul-Drover said studies show the demographic group most likely to
    drink during pregnancy is single, college-educated, white women.

    "It used to be perceived as an aboriginal problem across Canada but
    particularly in the NWT," she said.

    Paul-Drover has an adopted son with FASD.

    "You can't love them enough; you can't love this thing away," she

    "I thought you could, and that I couldn't was one of the hard things
    to realize."

    Her family support program runs Living and Learning with FASD, a
    project of the Yellowknife Association for Community Living,
    sponsored by Health Canada.

    "Our program advocates no shame, no blame," she said.

    "Because alcoholism, for whatever reason, is shame-based, there's
    still a lot of denial."

    ILLUSTATION        Above: Kathy Paul-Drover, fetal alcohol spectrum
                       family support co-ordinator, serves a bowl of soup
                       to Kim Brown outside the Tree of Peace during FASD
                       Week. For Paul-Drover, the campaign to raise
                       awareness about FASD is personal, as her adopted
                       son has the disorder.
                       Left: Marjorie Matheson-Maund and Mimi Kennedy of
                       the Yellowknife Association for Community Living
                       were outside the post office spreading the word to
                       passers-by during FASD Week.


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