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Bells ringing for FASD

MEDIA RELEASE
Wednesday 7 September 2005

Bells ringing for FASD

When the bells of Onehunga’s churches ring at 9.09am on Friday the 9th of September they will be the first bells in the world to mark International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day. FASD Awareness Day promotes the need for abstinence during pregnancy to help ensure the healthiest possible start to life.

New Zealand, being the first country in the world to see in each new day, has proudly started the international sequence of FASD Awareness Day events since its inception in 1999.

This year is no different. An event organised by the Auckland Fetal Alcohol Network will be held at the University of Auckland College of Education, Epsom Campus. The official welcome will be offered by the Mayoress of Auckland Diana Hubbard.

Elizabeth Russell, author, birth mother of two children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and recovering alcoholic, will give a key note address. Elizabeth speaks with an authentic voice of someone whose own life journey has resulted in two children with the disorder. Her experience has been captured in a just published book called “Alcohol and Pregnancy – A Mother’s Responsible Disturbance”.

Alcohol Healthwatch is proud to sponsor Elizabeth’s visit to New Zealand and hope that it will help to raise awareness and promote action on the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says that there is no known safe level of alcohol during pregnancy, therefore the best advice is don’t drink alcohol during pregnancy. If there is one simple message from the day it is this.

Williams says the day is also about recognising that there are individuals and families out there that are affected by the disorder and so in order for the appropriate help and support to be offered it needs to be safe to talk about the issue. We are incredibly indebted to people like Elizabeth whose courage enables them to rise above the personal trauma to help make things better for others.

ENDS

For more information on FASD Awareness Day see www.ahw.co.nz

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