In September each year, efforts are made to raise public awareness of FASD as a disability and of FASD prevention. Here we describe some of the great work that is being done.
Awareness of FASD as a disability – It is important to build awareness of the disability and how to support people living with FASD. This year, a report entitled Excluded: Increasing Understanding, Support and Inclusion for Children with FASD and their Families was developed by the Office of the BC Representative for Youth, with the involvement of people living with FASD. It provides a clear description of the effects of FASD and its challenges for individuals. It also looks at the challenges and gaps in support in educational, health, justice and other systems, and makes recommendations for addressing these gaps and challenges. Another resource of note about provision of support over the lifespan is Towards Healthy Outcomes for Individuals with FASD by the CanFASD Research Network in collaboration with the University of Alberta.
Awareness about alcohol use in pregnancy via educational materials and messaging – Every province and territory in Canada is working to some degree on FASD prevention awareness through informational materials, posters or social media posts. The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute (SPI) does a remarkable job of advocating for “changing the conversation” via an informational website and posters with modern images and encouraging messages. Click here for more information. SPI is consciously working to prevent stigma and uses this approach with the language and images in their prevention messaging, which are described in guidelines created by the CanFASD Research Network. Also within this year, the BC government updated and expanded their public Health File about FASD prevention. Click here for more information.
Alcohol policy initiatives – Warning labels have been found to play a small but important part in raising awareness about not drinking in pregnancy. In the past year The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) in Australia led a successful campaign for mandatory, visible pregnancy health warnings on all alcohol products in Australia and New Zealand. It is worth reading about how they achieved this, through broad inclusion of 4,000 people from 180 organizations, including people with lived experience, as well as health advocates, researchers, politicians, Indigenous leaders and many others: https://fare.org.au/labelling-campaign/. There are many other aspects of alcohol policy that deserve attention as part of FASD prevention, and the CanFASD Network Action Team on FASD Prevention (pNAT) is pleased to have participants who are interested in actively working towards improved alcohol policy over the coming year.
Community development – Another approach to raising awareness of the disability and its prevention is though involving families, organizations and communities in collective health promotion action. While the pandemic has thwarted most face- to- face community action, the Able2 group in Ontario is organizing a community walk to raise awareness on September 11th in Ottawa. For more information see: https://kitchissippi.com/2021/08/04/able2-on-upcoming-fasd-awareness-walk-pandemic-fundraising/
Promoting connection, respect and awareness is always a win!