September is FASD awareness month and we have seen some REMARKABLE activities in our communities across Australia. Thank you to everyone who got involved! Some highlights are described below.

Back in 2013 RJ Formanek, an adult with FASD, wanted people to know about his hidden disability. He decided to wear read shoes to stand out and start conversations about FASD. Now FASD advocates around the world wear red shoes in the international RedShoesRock awareness raising movement.

FASD Awareness Month

FASD Champion Megan Brown

The wonderful Megan Brown from Alice Springs Parent Support Group decided to knit these gorgeous Red Shoes Rock key rings and pin cushions, selling them to raise $600 for NOFASD! Thank you Megan for your creative idea and huge effort! Megan used her Facebook page Megsapixknits to raise awareness of FASD – posting a message which reached 3000! Megan also runs two Facebook support groups – an open group for everyone to share resources, and a closed group for families with FASD and the professionals who support them. Awarded the 2019 Alice Springs Volunteer of the Year Award, Megan is not the sort to sit around when she sees an opportunity to support those around her.

A parent who knows Megan commented that “Megan is a remarkable woman. When she speaks of the difficulties she faces raising her foster son on her own, I am in awe. On some days his behaviour is very challenging, and yet she is bright and welcoming, always keen to help others and fit another project into her busy life.”

The photos above show some of Megan's 77 knitted shoes. Megan (right) met with NOFASD's Board Chair Cheryl Dedman (left). 

April's Family Fence

April Wilson is the relative carer of a young person with FASD, meaning her whole family understands how challenging it can be to live with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. They decided to raise awareness this year by creating Red Shoes Rock bunting to display on April’s fence. She lives close to a shopping centre and local services, meaning a lot of people walk past each day. April said she saw many people stopping to read, and even the postie stopped to ask what the red shoes were all about.

NOFASD Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute

NOFASD Australia teamed up with the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to set up a FASD display at the Perth Children’s Court. Court staff got involved with the awareness raising campaign, wearing red shoes or clothing on the 9th September.
NOFASD and TKI also set up a tea booth in Perth City, displaying banners and offering a free herbal tea to people who stopped for a conversation.

FASD Information Wall at a Local Health Service

NOFASD’s board chair Cheryl Dedman created this fantastic display, which she hung with permission from her local health centre. Anyone walking past had the opportunity to stop and learn about FASD.

FASD Prevention in Pubs

Kath Penton and the Lower Great Southern Alcohol & Other Drug Management Group had huge success raising awareness in Albany and Katanning, WA. Drink coasters with a logo depicting a pregnant woman refusing a glass of wine and the caption “Alcohol can Harm the Developing Baby” were designed and distributed to leading licensed premises. Kath said all the venues they approached unhesitatingly supported this venture, with a total of 17 pubs involved. They used these coasters on their bars and tables and displayed posters during FASD week.

New Business Launch

NOFASD Australia was proud to host the launch of Digital Journey Photography, a business owned by a young person with FASD, with the support of his parents. DJ is a remarkable photographer who captures emotive images of Australian landscapes and wildlife. DJ has an eye for capturing special moments and being creatively artistic. The launch included a presentation and slide show, with a silent auction and printed products available for sale.

NOFASD Australia Planning for the Year Ahead

At NOFASD we continue to support families with FASD and raise awareness about the risks of prenatal alcohol exposure. Our annual report highlights some of last year’s achievements. The NOFASD Australia team met during FASD month, rocking our red shoes and shirts, to discuss prevention messages and the supports we can provide in the year ahead.

Reaching Out Online

NOFASD has continued to maintain an active online presence. Last year our posts reached one million impressions on Facebook and Twitter! NOFASD Executive Officer Louise Gray wrote a special blog for International FASD Awareness Day – read it here.

Celebrating a Big Step Forward

NOFASD Board Member Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM was the 2018 recipient of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Excellence in Healthcare Award. Earlier this year, Professor Elliott used her position within the AMA to move the following motion:
That the AMA support NHMRC guidelines that clinicians should advise women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy that the safest option is to avoid alcohol entirely.
This motion was passed by the AMA, a significant step towards preventing FASD, given that many health professionals don’t feel confident raising this topic with their patients.

Red Shoes Rock on Social Media

FASD awareness photos were shared far and wide across social media channels, with #FASD trending on Twitter on FASDday. Community members across Australia and around the world are speaking about FASD – raising awareness of this largely hidden disability.

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