Event to publicize dangers of drinking during pregnancy
At 9:09 a.m. on Sept. 9 this year and every year, bells ring throughout the world for "one magic minute" to remind everyone that women should remain alcohol-free for all nine months of pregnancy to prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
In Tucson, that will happen at the FASD Awareness Day Saturday at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 8051 E. Broadway.
The free event, which includes activities for children, begins with the bell-ringing ceremony and a release of butterflies, weather permitting. At 10 a.m. there will be a Magical Mystery Tour, 12 interactive stations people can visit to learn more about FASD.
At noon an awards ceremony honors three local activists who help raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of families and individuals affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol. They are: Linda Lopez, state legislator and co-chair of the Arizona Task Force on Preventing Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol and Other Drugs; Ron Barber, co-founder of FAS Community Resource Center; and Gabrielle Fimbres, Tucson Citizen reporter.
FASD affects as many as 50,000 Arizonans, and each year an estimated 900 Arizona infants are born with either Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder, said event organizer Teresa Kellerman, director of the FAS Community Resource Center.
"In most cases of developmental disabilities, the cause is not known, but prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading cause of preventable birth defects and developmental disabilities. Most individuals with fetal alcohol disorder have normal IQ and normal appearance," Kellerman said, adding "alcohol causes more damage to the developing baby's brain than any other substance." Kellerman's adopted son, John Kellerman, has full-blown FAS.
But John, 29, is one of the "lucky ones," she said. "He had an early diagnosis, qualified for services and has received protective support all his life."
John will play the drums as part of the scheduled entertainment and will lead children in the bell-ringing ceremony.
For more information about FASD, visit www.fasarizona.com or call the center at 514-9710.
FAS Community Resource Center: www.come-over.to/FASCRC