Every year, on the ninth day of the ninth month, the importance of not drinking alcohol during pregnancy is highlighted during fetal alcohol spectrum disorder awareness day.
Year round, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and Beacon Community Services, a community-based, not-for-profit services agency, work in partnership to support healthy pregnancies, healthy moms and healthy newborns in the Greater Victoria area.
Through Beacon Community Services, pregnant women are encouraged to attend educational workshops informing them about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant. Families living with FASD are given emotional and practical support.
“Through key worker supports for families who are raising children and youth with FASD, we address some of the permanent, lifelong challenges that result from FASD,” said Isobel Mackenzie, chief executive officer of Beacon Community Services in a press release. “Beacon Community Services offers a collaborative ‘wrap around’ approach to aid those who are grappling with the consequences of this serious disorder and for professionals who seek additional resources.”
Healthy Steps Women’s Program Adult FASD Diagnostic and Assessment Clinic, a pilot project offered through Beacon Community Services, is one of the services offered that provided women living with FASD with information, counselling and support services. The knowledge gained from the program will be used to further educate the public about the harmful and lifelong impacts of FASD. It was funded by the $10-million B.C. FASD Action Fund, established by Ministry of Children and Family Development in 2006.
FASD is an umbrella term that describes the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical, mental, behavioural and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications.