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FASD conference in Kotzebue this week

September 8th, 2017 | Shady Grove Oliver Print this article   Email this article  

A one-day conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders is happening in Kotzebue this week.

"There's a big need, and Sept. 9 is FASD awareness day," said Kiana's Jeanne Gerhardt-Cyrus, who is the coordinator for Maniilaq's Traumatic and Acquired Brain Injury (TABI) program.

The conference, called All Brains Matter, will take place Saturday, starting with a continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. A brief welcome and presentations will follow.

The conference is open to all, but geared toward families of people with an FASD, individuals with an FASD, and care providers.

"We have folks who will meet with providers and meet with families to help providers understand the needs of people with an FASD and also for families to help them be better able to seek what they need in terms of support," she said.

The Northwest Arctic Borough School District plans to send a few participants, as does the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. The conference is being sponsored by Maniilaq.

Presenters will include Shannon Cross-Azbill, who is the clinical director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Stephanie Johnson, who is a mental health clinician with the Nome Youth Facility, and Tami Eller, who is a treatment foster care clinical supervisor.

For those who are interested in supporting the event, but can't make the whole day, there will also be a public FASD awareness walk around town starting at 4 p.m. at Nullagvik Hotel. Everyone is invited to walk along with the group.

Gerhardt-Cyrus said breakfast and lunch will be provided to all attendees. Registration is free, but appreciated, so organizers know how many people to expect, she said.

The focus of the conference will be on support, both finding it and giving it, for those affected by an FASD in the region.

More information can be found by contacting Jeanne Gerhardt-Cyrus at, calling 907-412-0419, or faxing 866-331-2297.

The FASD conference was initially going to be paired with a traumatic and acquired brain injury conference the day before, but the TABI event has been postponed until spring.


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