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Douglas College aims to help end stigma surrounding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

A Douglas College Classroom and Community Support instructor is pioneering efforts to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Marsha Wilson’s goal is to have more people approach FASD for what it is – a pre-natal brain injury.

“It’s about brain, not blame,” Wilson said. “There isn’t a woman anywhere who would intentionally harm her unborn child. FASD is not a moral issue, nor is it a woman’s issue; it is a community issue.

“It’s time to end the stigma and shame.”

Working with experts in the field of FASD – including people with lived experience – Wilson has created a series of self-paced, online modules that aim to educate people with FASD, as well as families, friends and professionals.

“It is foundational training for social workers, teachers, justice workers, law-enforcement officers, family members, child and youth care workers, early-childhood educators and those who suspect or know they have FASD,” Wilson said.

The FASD Training Program – created in partnership with the Victoria Foundation – launched in 2014. Within the first 36 hours of registration, the 50-person program was full. There have been five iterations of the program since, with a wait-list extending to the end of this year. The training program is designed for family members and is delivered in a hybrid model – incorporating online and face-to-face education.

“It’s not for credit. There are no tests or homework. It’s sheer learning – like having your own professional-development workshop,” she said.

The program – and Wilson’s volunteer work on provincial and national committees as well as within B.C. communities – has cemented Douglas College’s status as a leader in FASD research and resources.

The program is in its pilot stage, which means the modules can be taken for free until the end of the year. Feedback and data gathered from participants will be used in the final evaluation of the project, which Wilson hopes will prove the need for sustainable government funding for ongoing education on FASD.

The College is hosting the ninth-annual FASD Roundtable Conference, entitled “Our Big Picture, Finding Your Framework,” Nov. 26, 8am-4pm, at the New Westminster Campus, which will feature cutting-edge research from the FASD community. 


Marsha Wilson, instructor, Classroom and Community Support

604 777 6367