Sunday, 16 September 2018

Rural FASD Caregiver Support Group launches


The Rural FASD Caregiver Support Group physically launched in Smiths Falls, ON today with a livestream and recording of their speakers.  Shelley More began with a timeline of how the Group got to this point, introduced their executive members and finished with their mandate, vision, and mission.  Tanya Eichler spoke next with a short talk on "What does FASD look like?"  Wendy Reed and Malcolm McIntosh shared their life experiences as caregivers of young adults and adults living with FASD.  To watch the entire presentation, go to https://www.facebook.com/robert.more.794/videos/1949415728458547/  or listen to the entire presentation at http://www.driveplayer.com/#fileIds=1uSaxlG4soQxm3syDSApzBFBqPjmvzq0M&userId=102324156331647622331

We had 45 caregivers, service providers, members of the general public and children in attendance.  We were particularly excited to have Open Doors staff who are in charge of Children's Mental Health in Lanark County and folks from Citizen Advocacy, Kids Inclusive and the Public Health Unit.  Calvary Bible Church also brought folks to help with child care and welcoming.  We will meet again next month on October 20 at 10:30am at Calvary Bible Church in Smiths Falls where I will be speaking about our educational system and how to advocate for what your child needs.  We will livestream again so if you can’t attend, feel free to go to our Facebook page to watch.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/RuralFASDOntario/?ref=bookmarks  Going forward, we will have two parts to our meetings.  We will start with an educational piece which will be livestreamed for about 30 minutes.  The second half will be completely private and confidential with no recording of any type and reserved to just the caregivers.  This time will be an opportunity to ask and talk about anything going on in people’s lives.  Some of the feedback given included comments on how informative Tanya's presentation was, how powerful Wendy and Malcolm's stories are, how well organized everything was, and amazement at how much has been done in two short years.  Most important to us, though, were the comments on how nice it was for the kids to just have fun and for us to be with those who get it.

We also had two more partners help us with bringing awareness to our local area with Hometown News publishing a local feature about the launch  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1J8QjnA94NBd9_qIcl0BaYgSHXFNUB4v2  and Lanark County formally proclaiming Sept 9 as FASD Awareness Day in Lanark County.  https://lanarkcounty.civicweb.net/document/84408/County%20Council%20-%2029%20Aug%202018.docx?handle=BB605BB7978147508102F24013D9F79C

Finally, a comment about our current provincial government.  If you haven't been to the MCSS website lately, you should check it out.  http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/fasd/index.aspx  When you read it, you may notice subtle changes but I would like to point out what I find intriguing.
1) They are now quoting Dr. Popova's study and have changed the prevalence number.
2) It appears they made these changes on June 29.  Again, I find it intriguing these changes were made on the day Minister MacLeod took on that portfolio. 
3) They did not change the number of funding of support workers.  It is still over 50. .
4) #5 now says "Establish a consultation group to provide advice and feedback to inform implementation planning and prioritization of efforts."  We had been asking if the advisory committee had been formed and it appears they are still working on it.  
5) They added a seventh initiative which was not part of the original six.  By saying "Support public awareness initiatives targeting at-risk groups, including women of child-bearing age," this is encouraging to me to continue bringing awareness and education to the province.

I have had direct conversation with MPP Hillier and he is currently working behind the scenes on our behalf.  I have known Randy for years and know him to be an honourable man.  Our MPP’s are incredibly busy right now but I believe this will happen.  Don't give up.  I was reminded yesterday by several people that it is amazing how much we have accomplished in two years.  I believe we will accomplish just as much in the next two years.

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