When the organisers of a special awareness day to be staged in Hawke’s Bay as part of International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Day called a group of motorcycle and bike-loving motorcyclists for support, there was never any hesitation.
“None at all,” Dogs on Bikes NZ spokesman Jason Wawatai, of Napier, said.
It will be the third fundraising and awareness ride the local members of the riding group, who take their pooches along for the occasional ride, have been involved with this year. Mr Wawatai said that as a grassroots group they were keen to raise awareness and do their bit to get the word out about often complex and misunderstood issues affecting people.
“So if we can get the dogs out with us to capture attention and we can highlight these things then yes, we’re happy to do it.”
Around the world FASD is recognised on September 9 – a date chosen to represent the nine months of pregnancy.
The awareness event will be staged this Saturday at Anderson Park, near the Scout Hall at the York Avenue end, and is being put together by the neuro-disability service Beacon Aotearoa which has been set up in Hawke’s Bay.
As well as attend the awareness day events the riders will first visit several sites around Napier during the morning, including the Farmers Market and cafes, to hand out brochures about FASD and encourage people to head along to the event to check it out.
The day will kick off from 11am and run until 1.30pm with sausage sizzles, live music, lolly scrambles and raffle fundraisers.
“And people can take their dogs along too,” Mr Wawatai said.
As well as raising awareness about FASD, it would also act as a showing of support for people in the community already affected by it.
The disorder is caused by pre-natal alcohol exposure.
“Unfortunately, it is a large and growing issue in our society,” Mr Wawatai said.
Basically, when a pregnant woman drank alcohol it meant the foetus also did, with the alcohol damaging all organs and seriously affecting the brain, which resulted in life-long behavioural and learning disabilities.
Some estimates gathered through international research shows as many as five children in 100, in societies comparable to New Zealand, could be born with FASD.
Mr Wawatai said societies were part of the solution and it was vital for the health and well-being of future generations to spread the message that there was no safe amount of alcohol during a pregnancy.
“So we are very keen to help spread the word.”
He said about seven riders and their doggy passengers would be involved, adding there would have been more but several Bay motorcyclists were away on two other fundraising drives this weekend outside the region.
This article originally appeared at www.nzherald.co.nz