PORT ALBERNI (NEWS1130) – A college on Vancouver Island hopes to come up with enough funding so it can continue a unique program serving students with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The program at the Port Alberni campus of North Island College included training in construction labour and employment-transition skills and just wrapped up its first year. Twelve local students started the 10-month term. Six graduated; others completed one or two program modules.
The college’s regional principal, Tom Weegar, says he hopes courses will continue this fall and an expanded program could include culinary, horticulture, landscaping, janitorial, and maintenance training.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder describes a range of physical and behavioural effects that may occur in a child if their mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy.
“FASD is a worldwide epidemic,” says Weegar. “Societies, I think, are struggling with how to deal with it.”
“Often, the alternative for these learners is either a life of poverty, or a life of crime — petty crime or maybe more advanced crime. And I don’t know why exactly communities have had a hard time addressing the issue and putting learning in place.”