‘Strollerathon’ to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Sue Kraft, Lifestyles Editor
Get out those walking shoes and strollers — next week a “strollerathon” will be held in Devils Lake to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (AD Builder Photo)

At REM ND, Larry Kraft has worked with a lot of disabled patients, but he says many of the cases could have been prevented.

Kraft said Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a big problem across the nation and is especially prevalent in areas with low or middle income families.

To raise awareness, REM is teaming with several local organizations to host a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Strollerathon-Walkathon on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

The walk is open to parents, children and community members. Participants can opt to walk or push strollers.

The walk will begin at Roosevelt Park at 4:30 p.m. and will continue to Devils Lake High School and back to the park, where a complimentary meal will be served and information will be available on FAS.

“It is totally preventable,” Kraft stressed. “It's not genetic or caused by an accident, its caused by drinking or doing drugs while pregnant.”

And, he noted, there is no cure.

“It's a life-long issue,” he said.

According to a national report titled, “Drug and Alcohol Dependency,” Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation in the Western world, with nearly one in every 100 live births affected by it in the United States and Europe.

Not all children with FAS suffer from complete mental retardation, though. Some are afflicted with behavioral problems, such as poor memory, attention deficit, impulsive behavior and poor cause/effect reasoning. Later in life, these symptoms may lead to mental health disorders and/or drug addiction.

In addition, most FAS children have distinctive facial features that do not look “normal.”

Preventing FAS is easy, Kraft said, just don't drink or use drugs while pregnant. Those who have been drinking without knowing they are pregnant should stop immediately.

Kraft said REM was approached by their headquarters and asked to select a topic that affects the community and they selected FAS. He said they spoke with other local offices, such as PATH (adoption/foster care) and the Human Service Center, to organize the strollerathon.

“Of all the diseases that cause developmental disabilities, this is preventable,” he said. “We hope to raise awareness.”

No pre-registration is required for the event and it is open to everyone. For more information, contact Kraft at 665-3044.