Sept. 9 was International FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Awareness Day. Throughout Whitehorse, several activities celebrated the day.
There was a community lunch held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre with free hot lunch provided by two food trucks and live music.
The lunch was to celebrate individuals with FASD and the community that supports them, said Natalie Taylor, chair of the FASD Interagency Committee Awareness Sub-Committee.
Then on Main Street, there was an information booth and at the Fireweed Market, a booth offered mocktails.
Communities outside Whitehorse will also be holding their own events, Taylor said.
International FASD Awareness was first held on Sept. 9, 1999. The global day started when families across the world began “thinking about FASD”, said Taylor.
“There’s a lot of stigma around it and there didn’t seem to be a lot of awareness in the community about the disability,” said Taylor. “It was just a bunch of parents that got together who wanted recognition for their children.
“They are the ones who came up with the day and the ones who spearheaded it.”
The first organizers chose the ninth day of the ninth month to “recognize that we want to support healthy pregnancies for nine months.”
Taylor said it’s important to raise awareness about FASD because it’s “still the most prevalent neural development disability that is out there.”
“It’s really important to raise awareness that it is still something that is happening, but also recognize and honour individuals who have FASD,” said Taylor. “There are lots of individuals in our community that have FASD.”
Taylor said the day also brings awareness to the supports that those with FASD need in their lives.
“That’s why we celebrate this day,” said Taylor.
Taylor said many factors go into why someone may have a child with FASD.
“The thing we always try to say is that no mother wants to harm the baby, nobody sets out to have a child with FASD,” said Taylor. “I think we try to build awareness, but if you want to stop FASD, the biggest thing is to be supportive of women during pregnancy.”
During pregnancy, Taylor said it’s important to provide mothers alternative options to drinking alcohol and just raise people up.
“We need to provide them with the support they need while pregnant and after pregnancy as well,” said Taylor. “That’s how we can end FASD.”
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org