Prevention is 100 percent cure: Battle against Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is advancing on the peninsula

Voices of the Peninsula

Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, Sept. 9, 2006 marked the 7th International Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Day. This should be a time of sober reflection for our community, but a time of celebration, too. The Kenai Peninsula leads the State in diagnosing individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD.) This does not mean that the problem is worse here than in other areas, instead it shows that we are very active in doing something about it.

We are also a leader in providing quality education on this disability. We are a community with an advanced level of awareness in preventing FASD and providing effective interventions for those who experience the disability. Through the work of the Kenai Peninsula Diagnostic Team at Frontier Community Services and their collaborative agencies, we have great hope for connecting families to services that can improve school, home, and therapy settings so that individuals with FASD may lead successful, meaningful lives.

Although we are reading this in retrospect, it is not too late to take a moment to remember that

· There is no safe amount of alcohol during any part of pregnancy.

· FASD is 100 percent preventable; if women do not consume alcohol during pregnancy, there will be no more children born with this disability.

· Drinking alcohol during pregnancy will result in future learning, behavioral, and sensory problems for children. These problems will be with them for the rest of their lives — they will not outgrow FASD.

Alaska has the highest known incidence of FASD in the United States, and the Kenai Peninsula shares equally with the rest of the State in this.

· There is hope for people with FASD. With diagnosis and interventions, those with FASD can live happy, successful lives.

Please join us, Saturday, Sept. 16 from 1-1:30 p.m. at the Peninsula Sports Center in remembering International FAS Awareness Day. We will begin with a drumming ceremony with the Heartbeat of Mother Earth, a mayoral proclamation, some words of hope, a moment of silence, ringing of the bells, and special music. The ceremony will be in conjunction with the Recovery Rendezvous that will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes games, prizes, a battle of the bands, free hamburgers and hotdogs, and a lot of fun.

Vickie Tinker is coordinator of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Program at Frontier Community Services.

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