A Program for World FAS Day
9:00†††† Greeting and Welcome
Bells have been rung for centuries; to mark the passage of time, to serve as a reminder, to sound a warning; they have rung in mourning and in celebration.† Today we will ring this bell for all these reasons.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is the most common birth defect in the industrialized world, affecting millions of people world-wide, resulting in physical and neurological damage to those exposed to alcohol during pregnancy.† It affects us all, because such damage has a profound affect on the entire society in which it occurs.† And, it is entirely preventable.† If a woman drinks no alcohol during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, the child will not have FASD.† This disorder has been with us as long as there has been alcohol, but it was just thirty years ago that researchers defined and named it.† Since then, much progress has been made in diagnosing and identifying those with the disorder.† Some help is now available for women at risk of having affected children, and some interventions and services have been developed to help children and adults damaged by alcohol prenatally.† But, there is still much to be done, and we have a long way to go.† Families and the general public, especially pregnant women, must be alerted to the danger.† Alcoholic beverages must be appropriately labelled, and those who serve them must be made aware.† Those in medicine, education, social services and the justice system must be educated.† And changes in public policy must be implemented to support these efforts.
At the ninth minute, of the ninth hour, of the ninth day, of the ninth month, people around the world pause to remember those affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.† Here in __________† we are participating in an international bell concordance which began ____† hours ago, where the day begins, in New Zealand.† The bells will continue to ring in each time zone as the day moves westward.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.† If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friendís or of thine own were.† Any manís death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.† John Donne
9:06†††† A Remembrance
Today, we remember those damaged by alcohol before they were born.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those among them who are poor and neglected; the hungry and homeless, the destitute and the oppressed, and those who have none to care for them.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those who are ill; the sick, the injured, and those broken in body, mind, or spirit.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those who live with loneliness, fear, injustice and danger.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those who are sad and overwhelmed with despair; the sorrowful and the bereaved.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember the many people with FASD who are in prison.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those who bear the responsibility of caring for children affected by prenatal exposure to alcohol, in the hope that gatherings such as this will provide them with encouragement and support.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember the families -- birth, adoptive and foster families of those with FASD.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those who love and care for affected adults, especially families, friends and spouses.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember social workers, counsellors, doctors and teachers, who work, often unknowingly, with children and adults affected by FASD.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember the police, youth justice workers, lawyers and judges, in the hope that they might be knowledgeable and considerate in their dealings with those affected by FASD.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember jailers, guards and prison administrators, in the hope that they might exercise compassion in their work, and be open to learning more about this disorder.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember with gratitude, the efforts of those who work in the area of FASD, who have contributed so much to our understanding of the disorder, and in developing programs for those affected.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember those in government and all who influence public opinion; those who speak where many listen and write what many read, in the hope that they will use their influence to bring about improvement in public policy and services to those affected.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember all those around the world who join with us today, taking heart from our collective will to reduce and prevent this disorder, support those affected, and educate our communities.
††††††††††††††††††††††† We remember especially those individuals touched by this disorder, whom we name now, aloud, or silently to ourselves.† Pause
††††††††††††††††††††††† And finally, we commit ourselves, in the hope that in gathering together here, and ringing this bell today, we are moving forward in our efforts to achieve these ends.
The bell will be rung for one minute.
9:10†††† Thanks and Closing
(Times noted are approximate; please adjust so as to arrive at 9:09 for the ringing of the bell.)
Submitted by Rae Ryan, Ottawa, Canada