On Tuesday morning, a pancake breakfast at Rotary Park raised awareness for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the health risks of alcohol to an unborn child.
The event was in conduction with FASD Awareness Day, which is an international event on Sept. 9 that asks for community support to help women refrain from drinking while they are pregnant.
The day is on the ninth day of the ninth month and even began at 9 a.m. as a symbol to the nine months of pregnancy. At 9:09 a.m. a group gathered in Spirit Square and bells were rung.
At the event, Mayor Wayne Stetski talked about the importance of community support for pregnant mothers, noting there is no safe time during a pregnancy to drink.
“The best gift that a pregnant mother can give to her child is to stay away from alcohol and drugs during the nine months of pregnancy,” Stetski said.
Kathy Casimer, raised 34 children, 32 of which were fostered or adopted. She spoke about the difficulties she’s faced raising 25 children with FASD.
“The biggest challenge has been getting people including teachers to understand that these kids have brain injuries, and that this behaviour that they don’t know how to deal with is a result of that,” Casimer said. “They are not bad kids. They have brain damage.”
FASD is the most common cause of developmental disabilities in North America. Despite 40 years of evidence that alcohol exposure causes irreversible brain damage and a wide range of birth defects, one in 13 pregnant women report drinking alcohol during the last 30 days.
FASD Awareness Day was started by parents of adopted children with FASD in Toronto in 1999.
It is now marked across the world with the ringing of bells on the ninth day of the ninth month each year.