The Tri-City News
Fetal alcohol warning going to B.C. schools
By Tom Fletcher Black Press
Mar 30 2007
VICTORIA – The B.C. government is taking its efforts to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorder into public schools, while extending a program of spring and summer camps for affected children and their caregivers.
FASD prevention signs and information pamphlets with the message “Alcohol and Pregnancy Don’t Mix” are being delivered to school districts this month. Similar signs are already posted in government liquor stores.
“Our hope is that educating secondary school students about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy will motivate them and others in the school community to make healthy choices.” said Education Minister Shirley Bond.
FASD is the most common preventable birth disorder in the western world, and causes lifelong brain damage. Health Canada estimates nine births per 1,000 are affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.
The B.C. Health Guide advises that there is no acknowledged safe limit of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Alcohol passes through the mother’s blood to the developing fetus, affecting the central nervous system and leading to learning and behaviour problems.
Physical effects may include abnormal facial features. A child may have a small head, flat face and narrow eye openings. Structural problems involving the eyes, ears, heart, urinary tract or bones may also occur.
Children with the most severe effects are said to have fetal alcohol syndrome.
The B.C. children and family development ministry has also provided a $250,000 grant so hundreds of British Columbians who live and work with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder can attend training and recreation camps. It’s the second annual grant to the Whitecrow Village Society so it can offer the camps to new and returning children, families and professionals. This year’s camps are to be held on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Northwest B.C., Prince George and Squamish.
In 2006, funding from the ministry of children and family development enabled Whitecrow to provide camps for 64 families, 141 children, 78 caregivers and 107 professionals and support workers from 16 B.C. communities.
“This year, more people will be able to go to camp, get in touch with their strengths, learn how to create effective environments to capitalize on those strengths and leave with higher spirits and higher hopes,” said Whitecrow founder Kee Warner.
“The camps are places of acceptance, knowledge and inspiration,” said Amy Emmett, adoptive mother of two children with FASD. “Counsellors opened our minds to new ways of dealing with the trials and tribulations and the many joys of having exceptional children.”
BC: Fetal alcohol warning going to B.C. schools
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