Project CHOICES is a program in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that works with girls and women of any age who are not currently pregnant, drink alcohol, and are sexually active. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy through choosing healthy behaviours around alcohol and birth control use.
This infographic summarizes changes for participants three months after completing the program.
Project CHOICES is based on motivational interviewing which is a counseling approach that is respectful, non-judgmental and client-centred. Motivational interviewing allows health care providers and clients to explore possible areas of change, discuss strategies that make sense for the client and their life circumstances, and provides encouragement and support.
The program considers three different routes to reducing the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy: (1) reducing alcohol use (2) using effective contraception (3) reducing alcohol use and using effective contraception.
Learn more about the evaluation from Healthy Child Manitoba. Check out the program website to learn more about the program, how to make a referral, and for resources on alcohol, pregnancy and birth control.
The With Child Without Alcohol website was developed by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries with the support of Healthy Child Manitoba. (Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is part of the provincial government and responsible for the distribution and sale of alcohol, including social responsibility initiatives).
The website describes FASD as a shared responsibility with an emphasis on the idea that “It takes a village to have a healthy pregnancy.”
Be With Child Without Alcohol was developed to provide women and the villages in their lives with information about alcohol use during pregnancy to help them prevent alcohol-related disabilities like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Together we can help prevent FASD.
The website includes information about alcohol and pregnancy, FASD, pregnancy and addiction, and where to find support.
Information on the website is available as a downloadable guide – in four languages: English, French, Cree and Ojibway.
Healthy Child Manitoba, in partnership with the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership, will be hosting the Living Well: FASD and Mental Health conference to be held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba from November 5-7, 2014.
The Living Well: FASD and Mental Health conference will bring awareness to issues related to mental health and mental illness for those most directly affected by FASD and will foster a commitment to advance the knowledge and implementation of evidence informed strategies and programs.
Participants will learn about current research and best practices in responding to complex issues such as:
Mental health and substance use for pregnant and parenting women
Mental wellness for those living with FASD
Case management for individuals living with FASD and mental health co-morbidities
Diagnosing FASD and co-occurring mental health disorders
Emotional wellbeing for caregivers of individuals living with FASD
See the call for abstractshere. Deadline for submission is April 25, 2014.
New poster and brochure from Healthy Child Manitoba
It is important for women to receive clear and supportive information about staying as healthy as possible during pregnancy. This includes receiving appropriate culturally sensitive information about the potential impact of alcohol on pregnancy and ways of preventing FASD.
Healthy Child Manitoba worked with the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre at the final design and production stages providing: (1) helpful suggestions about design qualities including the final placement of visuals on the posters and brochures, (2) accurate message and content information for the posters and brochures, and (3) the financial resources for the production of the posters, brochures and promotional items.
The resource states: “There is no known safe amount of alcohol, at any stage of pregnancy, that will completely prevent the risk of having a child with FASD.” (p. 10)
This is a great resource as it’s not focused solely on health risks of alcohol or intended to stop women from drinking alcohol. Instead, it focuses on factors and issues that women might consider in making healthy decisions for themselves.
The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was established in September 2010 to inquire into the “(BC Missing Women) Investigation and events leading up to the arrest and conviction of Robert W. Pickton and a broader examination of the manner in which cases involving missing women are investigated.”
The final report, including 63 recommendations, by Commissioner Wally Oppal was released in mid-December.
Oppal begins his report by looking at the context of the lives of the women. He states:
Each missing and murdered woman had a unique life and story. At the same time, this group of women shares the experience of one or more disadvantaging social and economic factors: violence, poverty, addiction, racism, mental health issues, intergenerational impact of residential schools and so on. While not every woman experienced each of these conditions, most had experienced several of them. (p. 12)
While the story of the missing and murdered women might seem unrelated to FASD prevention, health and social service providers who work with women who have experienced (and continue to experience) these interlinking factors – violence, poverty, addiction, racism, mental health issues, intergenerational impact of residential schools – would argue differently. Many women who are at risk for having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy are facing one or more of these issues.
For example, Susan Astley and her colleagues conducted a seminal piece of research in Washington State, in which they followed up with 160 women who had children diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. Forty of the women could not be contacted due to confidentiality issues, another 40 had died or disappeared; of the 80 women they interviewed, they found:
100% had been seriously sexually, physically, or emotionally abused;
80% had a major mental illness, with the most prevalent (77%) being Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
80% still lived with men who did not want them to stop drinking; and
46% were still at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.
As another example – some of you may be familiar with the InSight Mentoring Program in Manitoba, an outreach program that provides intensive support to women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby and have substance use problems. Of the first 60 women to enroll in the program, 100% reported experiencing abuse or violence at some point in their lives (Umlah & Grant, 2003).
These research findings illustrate the importance of recognizing and understanding the role violence and other related factors plays in the lives of pregnant women struggling with their use of drugs or alcohol. Reports like the one from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry serve as a reminder that these issues are not isolated events or confined to pregnancy and require broader systemic changes.
Astley SJ, Bailey D, Talbot T, Clarren SK (2000). Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) primary prevention through FAS Diangosis: II. A comprehensive profile of 80 birth mothers of children with FAS. Alcohol & Alcoholism, (35) 5:509-519.
Umlah, C. & T. Grant (2003). Intervening to prevent prenatal alcohol and drug exposure: the Manitoba experience in replicating a paraprofessional model. Envision: The Manitoba Journal of Child Welfare, 2(1): 1-12.
Here are just a few of the events and activities held across the country on September 9, 2012.
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland – Breakfast at Nunatsiavut’s Health and Social Development building. Listen to the CBC Radio coverage here.
St. John’s, Newfoundland – Pancake breakfast and ringing of bells on the steps of St. John’s City Hall. See the news coverage here.
Thunder Bay, Ontario – 4th Annual Mini-Powwow held at Marina Park. See the news coverage here.
Kenora, Ontario – Information booth at Kenora Shoppers Mall. See news coverage here.
Timmins, Ontario – Purple-pancake breakfast at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, including activities for kids and mocktails. See news coverage here.
Fort Frances, Ontario – Gathering at the Circle of Life Centre in Fort Frances. See more here.
St. Thomas, Ontario – Bells rang. Hear a radio clip here.
Mississauga, Ontario – Peel Public Health (serving the areas of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga) and other community organizations host an education event with mocktails. See the news coverage here and here.
Kingston, Ontario – Breakfast and networking hosted by the Kingston FASD Action Network. Dr. James Reynolds from Queen’s University presents on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Basic Science Research to Treatment Strategies. See the news coverage here.
Ottawa, Ontario – BBQ, display booths, games, and drumming at Heron Park. See the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Coalition of Ottawa website here.
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba – Free BBQ hosted by the Portage and District FASD Coalition. See the news coverage here and here. The Portage Friendship Centre‘s Insight Mentoring Program held a feast to honor FASD Day and Grandparents Day. See the news coverage here.
Melfort, Saskatchewan – A mocktail event at the Marguerite Riel Centre.
Barrhead, Alberta – Community awareness event, proclamation and walk. See the coverage here.
Calgary, Alberta – AltaGas Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network Run/Walk FASD
Edmonton, Alberta – Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network, in partnership with many community agencies, hosted a flashmob at Kingsway Garden Mall. See photos on EFAN’s website here.
Lethbridge, Alberta – Music, speakers, yummy treats, fun and games at Galt Gardens.
Whitecourt, Alberta – Gathering at Friendship Park. Click here for more.
Vernon, British Columbia – FASD Day at Polson Park. An awareness walk, music from The Shags and Kat and The Valentines, lunch and speakers. See the news coverage here.
Comox Valley, British Columbia – Community Brain Fair at Simms Park, Courtenay. Bounce Mania and other activities for kids and information for parents and care-givers. See the news coverage here and here.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – “Stop.Check.Be Sure! ” event on Friday which offered free pregnancy tests in women’s public washrooms. Free mocktails for women at the Hot Shots Pub, The Ravens Pub and the Boston Pizza Sports Bar. See the news coverage here.
Hay River, Northwest Territories – Information sheets distributed at the liquor store and restaurants; a short quiz on the TV in the hospital waiting room throughout September; Lunch and Learn presentation.
Inuvik, Northwest Territories – Community baby shower at Ingamo Hall. See the news coverage here.
Check out this awareness video developed by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services on YouTube.
And, as a finale to this roundup, you may want to read a message from the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, from September 9, 2012 on International FASD Awareness Day.