March 2022.

The Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR) is implementing a new nutrition and learning support programme in two primary schools within Britstown, which is designed to meet the needs of learners affected by FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and other learning barriers. This programme, launched in January 2022, will provide learners with cost-effective and practical nutritional supplementation, in the form of a fortified biscuit, as well as a learner support programme at the schools.

“We are pleased to have been selected to be part of this new programme. Our learners who are really battling are going to get extra essential vitamins, minerals, and support from FARR to help them tackle their learning barriers. We are grateful to De Aar Solar Power for sponsoring this programme, for helping give these children a better opportunity to learn and for giving us, as educators, hope,” expressed Ms Nyl, Principal at Van Rensburg Primary School.

One of the biggest challenges facing a community such as Britstown is food security and access to adequate nutrition. As part of a community study, conducted by FARR in Britstown in 2020 and 2021, several learners were diagnosed with malnutrition. Their poor nutritional status directly impacts on their brain development and scholastic performance.

“We undertook research in another area a few years ago focussing on the development of a fortified biscuit to supplement the preschool learners’ diets, especially in terms of essential vitamins and other micro-nutrients. In our pilot project we found that the learners’ scholastic performance, school attendance and concentration showed marked improvement. The parents also reported that their children’s health status improved. This combination of learner support and nutrition we are offering in Britstown, is the first intervention of its kind for us in South Africa,” explained Dr Leana Olivier, CEO of FARR.

Funded by the Sibona Ilanga Trust, a local community trust established by De Aar Solar Power, FARR is able to provide comprehensive community support to community members in Britstown, especially to expectant mothers, babies, and young people.

FARR is the leading source of research and information on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in South Africa. The organisation is dedicated to building positive futures in South African communities by significantly reducing birth defects and mental disabilities caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

“Since we set up our office in Britstown 18 months ago, we have been able to establish trust, loyalty, and respect with the members of the community who were initially apprehensive about participating in our programmes. The community also expressed their gratitude for the services delivered by FARR during the strict COVID-19 lockdown periods, when other services in the area were closed. We are extremely grateful to our sponsor, De Aar Solar Power, for enabling us to do this kind of work,” concluded Dr Olivier.

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