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FASD Awareness Day

New Zealand marks the 10th anniversary of International FASD Awareness Day

Pregnat Pause
Pregnant Pause Queen Street Auckland (Photo taken by Trevor Lewis)

@ 9.09am on 9th of the 9th 1999, Alcohol Healthwatch supported the community to mark the inaugural International FASD Awareness Day. Ten years on, 09/09/09, and all intervening years New Zealanders have marked the day to raise community awareness.

Communities across the country contribute something to ensure that local people hear the key messages – alcohol can harm an unborn baby; the effects can last a lifetime; the harm is preventable; and more can and should be done to improve the lives of affected people.

New Zealand events this year included all 7 of Timaru’s churches with bells ringing them in concordance @ 9.09am. Thanks to the efforts of individuals such as Molly from Timaru, Debra from New Plymouth and Ally in Blenheim, displays in libraries, school and hospitals were up during the week and media was mobilised.  Manaaki Oranga in New Plymouth held a family day with butterflies as their FASDAY theme. The butterfly is the symbol of FASWorld the initiators of the FASDAY phenomenon - based on the knowledge that butterflies wings beating in Brazil set off storms elsewhere in the world.  International FASDAY has met that ideal with community activities increasing globally every year. Other places in the world (that we know of) marking the day following New Zealand were Australia, Reunion Island, Mauritius and Madagascar, South Africa, Paris France, London UK, Northern Ireland, Canada and the USA.

Founders of FASDAY, Canadians Bonnie Buxton and Brian Philcox from Toronto were invited to attend the FACE (Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise) research conference in Toronto which is held on FASDAY each year. There they were presented with awards in recognition of their contribution to FASD awareness.  The Hon. Deborah Matthews, Minister of Children and Youth Services presenting these awards spoke at length about her commitment to action on FASD.

Pregnant Pause

A new event, the “Pregnant Pause” flash mob has joined the host of ways to mark the day.  The first was held at London’s Victoria Station last year and when the call went out for other places to join in for the 10th Anniversary, Auckland responded.  At 9.09am in down town Queen Street, a group of ‘pregnant’ people stood in freeze-mode among passers by – including the men!  This can be viewed on ‘You Tube’. This year the TV One Close-up programme ran an insightful item on the topic which can be viewed at   http://tvnz.co.nz/close-up/would-you-stop-pregnant-woman-drinking-2982899/video

Auckland Seminar

A seminar entitled ‘Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Aotearoa – 10 Years On’ was held in Auckland to mark the 10th Anniversary of International FASD Awareness Day. Hosted by Alcohol Healthwatch, the seminar brought together policy, research and community representatives to discuss what had been learned and applied in the past 10 years of activity. Researchers presented data on knowledge and behaviour among women of childbearing age and among primary healthcare professionals. Officials from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (ANZFA) and the Ministry of Health presented on aspects of work to prevent harm at a national level. Alcohol Healthwatch presented on 10 years of community action.  You can view the seminar presentations on the Alcohol Healthwatch website www.ahw.org.nz