PUBLISHED: 4:59 PM on Wednesday, September 5, 2007
SEARHC holds FASD wellness walk, events
The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Behavioral Health Department is hosting a wellness walk and other awareness activities on Sunday, Sept. 9, in honor of International FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) Awareness Day, National Native American Recovery Month and National Recovery Month.

Juneau residents interested in participating in the FASD Wellness Walk should line up at noon at the Breeze-Inn parking lot for a 1 p.m. walk across the Douglas Bridge (please park in the parking lot across the roundabout from Breeze-Inn). The walk ends at the KINY Radio parking lot, and there is a potluck honoring elders with a grand entrance by dancers and elder speakers after the walk at the Tlingít-Haida Community Center, 3235 Hospital Drive.

FASD is an umbrella term that describes a variety of conditions that happen to children whose mothers drank alcohol during pregnancy.

These effects can cause physical, mental, behavioral and/or learning disabilities with lifelong implications.

FASD refers to as many as 256 different conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol effects (FAE), alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder and alcohol-related birth defects. E

Each year more than 40,000 babies are born in the U.S. with FASD, costing the nation about $4 billion, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In Alaska, the rate of FAS in Alaska Natives/American Indians is 5.6 per 1,000 live births, compared to the state's overall FAS figure of 1.5 per 1,000 births for all ethnic groups.

"Recent research found that although not every child exposed to alcohol develops fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS facial features are formed between 18-21 days of pregnancy), prenatal drinking can lead to a variety of other behavioral problems among children," said Juneau FASD Diagnostic Clinic Coordinator Ric Iannolino, who is employed by the Central Council of Tlingít and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and holds monthly FASD diagnostic clinics at the SEARHC Juneau Medical Center. "FASD is 100-percent preventable, but many women who drink do not know they are pregnant for six or more weeks."

Other FASD awareness activities planned in September include a series of events featuring 15-year-old Native American flute player Morgan Fawcett of Powers, Ore., who has FASD and was born in Juneau. Morgan and his grandparents, Sue and Roy Hempel, will have 60 to 70 donated Native flutes they will give to young people who attend Morgan's workshops.

Morgan will be joined by nationally recognized violinist Arvel Bird, who is of Southern Paiute, Me'tis and Scottish heritage.

Morgan and Arvel will play a concert for students at Yaakoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, then appear on KTOO-FM's radio show "A Juneau Afternoon" at 3 p.m. with host Jeff Brown.

At 7 p.m. that night, they appear at the Juneau Library for storytelling. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, Arvel presents a concert at Juneau-Douglas High School. Tickets are $10 per adult (children 12-younger free) at Hearthside Books.

For more information or to volunteer with the events, please call SEARHC Community Family Service Worker Norene Otnes at 463-6670 or 364-4445.

For more about FASD Awareness Day, go to Event co-sponsors include NCADD of Juneau, Aware Inc., Tlingít-Haida Central Council and One Heart Creations.