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More support in this years FASD Awareness Walk

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The Pas and Area FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Committee held its annual awareness walk this previous weekend starting off at The Pas’ Devon Park and proceeding though 1st Street, across the Chief Cornelius Bignell Bridge and eventually ending at the Gordon Lathlin Memorial Centre on Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Lunches were then served to the participants and there were informational display cases on the impacts of drinking while pregnant as well as the lasting impacts of FASD.
The walk itself was bigger than in previous years as the organizers indicated and that is a hopeful thing to see from their perspective.
“It’s awesome to see this many people. We weren’t sure -because it’s a Saturday this year- how many people we could get because quite often during the week more people from work can come,” said Donna Tumak, coordinator for the Insight Mentor Program though the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA), which is part of The Pas and Area FASD Committee.
More people showing up showcases that people locally are becoming more aware of FASD and its impacts.
“We’re always very happy when we have this many people because it really does increase the awareness and we got different groups from town and even the Blizzard guys come in and marched with us. It’s a lot of public relations just to bring attention to the fact that there is FASD and it can be prevented,” Tumak said.
According to the Canada FASD Research Network, FASD is “an umbrella term that describes the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was prenatally exposed to alcohol, and includes FAS. These effects can include lifelong physical, mental, behavioural difficulties, and learning disabilities. Depending on the amount and the timing of alcohol exposure, a minority of infants exposed will also develop a characteristic pattern of facial features, and some will have a growth deficiency. However, those effects are relatively rare and have little impact on day-to-day function.”
“We understand that there are issues, that women have issues, what we want to do is support them and we ask that people support them. We’re trying to get rid of the stigma, it’s been shown that the more you support the women and help them, the better they are even for future pregnancies. So it’s about support,” she added.
On Thursday, October 5, Kim Barthel, a renowned occupational therapist, will be coming to The Pas and area. She speaks on subjects such as attachment between parents and their children, the event will be open to the public at the cost of $25 per person. A free lunch is included in the event as well.
“FASD is a part of it, it’s more difficult to attach to children with FASD, but that’s what she’s really going to be speaking about; bonding, attaching, and if there are issues how can we get over it even if people are older,” explained Tumak.
Every year International FASD Awareness Day is commemorated to help raise awareness about this issue and every year on September 9 The Pas and Area FASD Committee holds its annual walk.

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Trevor Wright
REPORTER
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