by Rob More
On Saturday, August 14, 33 children and young adults with FASD and their families ages 3-25 from the counties of Leeds-Grenville and Lanark gathered together at Morehaven Farm in Montague Township for a day of fun and relaxation. https://youtu.be/Qga3shqakjE. Everyone enjoyed activities such as swimming, four-wheeling, playing on a trampoline and bocce ball and petting the chickens, cows and horses. The day was also full of special events such as a Bemer demonstration on a horse, a cattle showing, face painting, nature hike, eating Mark’s Carnival Treats, road hockey, and a swimming contest. All the special events were delivered by the Rural FASD Youth who have been practicing for almost a year in preparation for this day. Have Tents, Will Travel also graciously donated the usage of party tents for the demonstrations. We were also honoured to be joined by Councillors Brian Dowdall of Beckwith Township and Reeve Bill Dopson of Montague Township who spent the day with us and Scott Reid, our local MP who sent the following greetings to the families.
I am sorry that a scheduling conflict makes it impossible for me to be at this dinner— no sane person would pass up an opportunity to sample the cooking of Steph the Grilling Gourmet. But more importantly, this is a chance to say a few words in honour of the work that you are doing to help rural families that are affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This is such important work. The effects of FASD last a lifetime, and they impact both the individual, and the family of which he or she is a member.
I know this from personal experience. Two members of my extended family suffer from Fetal Alcohol Effect, and in one of the two cases damage caused to the optical nerves by in-utero exposure to alcohol has led to a lifetime of being legally blind. Dealing with such disabilities means that life is always a little bit harder (or in some cases, dramatically harder) than it is for the rest of us, and that means that we all need to lend a helping hand—both to the affected individuals themselves, and to their families.
This is the work that you do, and for this you deserve everybody’s thanks. Thanks as well to Montague Township Council for helping with this event.
Scott Reid, MP Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.”
The day was made complete by a full demonstration and dinner by TV Celebrity Chef Steph the Grilling Gourmet www.youtube.com/watch?v=81bdAAArs64, of which everyone thoroughly agreed was the best smoked brisket and chicken they had ever eaten. Thank you also to John Jordan, who is currently running for the LFK PC nomination, for stopping by and introducing himself.
The Rural FASD Support Network is currently the largest non-profit peer support Ontario organization made up exclusively of people with lived experience of FASD. With FASD being the most prevalent lifetime neurodevelopmental disability, with 4% of the population living with this disability, our mandate is to provide positive, non-judgmental peer support, both physically and virtually, provide education and awareness through our lived experience lens, and work with service providers to help achieve positive life outcomes.
We thank Montague Township, the Municipality of North Grenville and Beckwith Township for continuing to be willing partners in helping us reach our mandate and enabling wonderful new connections to be made between families, friends, and service providers. We identified that 382 new social connections were made within the six hour event, and seven youth with FASD got to serve in leadership and mentoring roles.
If you, or someone you know, is living with FASD, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected], or join our Facebook group @RuralFASDSupportNetwork. All services are free, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. We also meet the third Saturday of every month, starting at 10:30am in a physical and virtual format.