Local residents are invited to attend a presentation by Morgan Fawcett, a victim of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), as part of an awareness week about the disease being held Sept. 9-15 by the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre here.
Fawcett is an activist for FASD, travelling all over Canada and the U.S. to “provide an inside look into the life of an individual with disabilities associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol.”
Diagnosed at age 15, he's since been able to move forward and help others who have FASD, as well as those who don't understand more about the complexities behind it.
“He shares his story and his life,” said Jocelyn Johnson, program manager at the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre.
“We thought it would be good to go around and be able to share that with many others.”
Fawcett is scheduled to give two presentations at the Townshend Theatre next Tuesday (Sept. 11)—the first from 1-2:30 p.m. for service providers, parents, and caregivers and then a second from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. for the general public.
He also is slated to make presentations around the district, including in Rainy River, Big Grassy FN, and Seine River FN.
One of Fawcett's main goals through his talks is to help people understand the scope of the disease.
Despite not physically looking different or “presenting well,” he was diagnosed with various conditions such as low cognitive skills and brain development, as well as sensory integration problems and other learning disabilities that cause his brain to tire quickly.
As such, he requires help. And while it's hard to ask for help, Fawcett said it brought him a sense of relief.
“[It] not only brings relief but it also gives you a base where you need help,” he said in a video posted by the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS).
“Knowing it and understanding where your deficits lay helps you build upon your strengths,” he reasoned.
After being diagnosed, Fawcett knew he wanted to spread awareness and educate others about the disease. He's been travelling across both the U.S. and Canada ever since.
During this time, he has received awards such as the NOFAS leadership award in 2011, given to him by the Alaska state legislature, and was recognized as a “Champion of Change” under the Obama administration.
He was invited to the White House that same year.
“He's a success story," Johnson lauded. "He's done so many great things and wonderful things.”
She added his presentations are very public-friendly, and young kids with and without FASD also are invited to attend to meet him or just hear him speak.
In addition to the presentations, Fawcett also is slated to attend a breakfast at the UNFC's Circle of Life building on Mowat Avenue this Monday (Sept. 10) at 8 a.m.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
For more information about the presentations and FASD Awareness Week, call the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre at 274-3131.