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INTERNATIONAL FAS DAY –
IN ONE MAGIC MINUTE, WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD:
9 /9 9:09 a.m.In late February, 1999, a small group of burned-out parents, most of whom had never met face-to-face, began to change the world. Since then, hundreds of communities around the world have joined us to honour International FAS Awareness Day (FASDay).
We are parents of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or ARND (Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder), the most common and damaging birth defect in the world, and the one which could be totally prevented. The full range of disorders caused by maternal drinking in pregnancy are now generally known as FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), and it affects about 1 in 100 people in North America, about 4 times in incidence of AIDS/HIV. (There are about 3 million people with FASD in the U.S., and 300,000 in Canada, the majority undiagnosed.)
In South Africa, Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union, the rate of undiagnosed FAS is even higher.
Our original volunteers were mainly adoptive and foster parents, plus a small but committed number of mothers in recovery, who have been working hard to inform and support other women with substance abuse problems. All of us lived daily with children whose prenatal damage caused mental retardation or learning disabilities, plus severe acting-out behaviour that disrupted our lives and their classrooms, and often physical problems requiring much medical attention.
|Click map to visit FASD Center of Excellence to learn
more about what each country accomplished
For most of us, life revolved around our children’s crises: most mothers had been forced to abandon any thought of full-time career. Frustrated by the lack of public awareness of FAS by both public and professionals, we had communicated on line internationally for more than two years.
And on that February day, Bonnie Buxton, and Brian Philcox working in collaboration with Teresa Kellerman, began to wonder:
“What if, on the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month of the year one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine, we asked the world to remember that during the nine months of pregnancy, a woman should not drink alcohol? And, what if we also asked the world to remember those millions of people who will struggle all of their lives, because of prenatal alcohol? “At this magic minute in history, could we begin to change the world?”
And we began to work together, helped only by the Internet. Our group grew to include more than 70 volunteer coordinators in eight countries. Our northernmost volunteers were in Alaska, Yukon and the new Canadian territory, Nunavut, our southernmost in New Zealand.