International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Awareness Day is just under a month away. Here are some ideas and planning suggestions from FASworld and the Red Shoes Rock team on how to plan a Bell Concordance or ideas for a minute of reflection. These can be group activities or a reflection you undertake on your own if your community is not hosting an event near you.
The FASD Bell Concordance
What is the Bell Concordance?
From the Oxford English Dictionary:
Concordance: The fact of agreeing or being concordant; agreement, harmony…. An agreeable or satisfactory blending of musical sounds or notes; harmony.)
The Bell Concordance is relatively easy to organize, and many have been held to celebrate International FASDay. This can be done inside or outside a church, with ringing church bells or carillons, in a school, with children ringing tiny bells, in a park, ringing wind chimes or using a cell phone.
On September 9, 1999, bells around the world marked the “magic minute” at 9:09 a.m., and we named this ringing of bells, “The FASD Bell Concordance.” It was so successful that other organizations have picked up this term and copied it!
We (Bonnie Buxton, Teresa Kellerman, and Brian Philcox) came up with the bell idea as there is a purity about bells that reminds us of the innocence of children. As well, bells are historically associated with warnings, alarms, marking important moments, and simply pealing for the joy of connecting with the community. FASDay is all of these things.
On FASDay 2000, even more bells and other percussion instruments were played – ranging from the first mission bell in New Zealand to the historic 56 bell carillon in Cape Town, South Africa, to tiny bells rung by school children, and wind chimes and rain sticks played by native Canadians.
Red Shoes Rock says,
You can participate in this even if you are the only person in your community who knows what FASD is! Ring your bell, do a selfie and post your picture.
How to organize a local Bell Concordance
The FASD Bell Concordance is quite simple, and you can do most of the work on your phone. Is there a tower with a hand-rung or automatic bells in your community? This could be a church, a city or county hall, state or provincial building, or part of a college or university campus.
Find out who is in charge of getting that bell rung, and ask that person to have the bell rung for one minute at 9:09 a.m. on September 9.
There are about 600 carillons throughout the world. To find out if there is a carillon near you, go to http://www.gcna.org/, the most complete and accurate listings of carillons in North America, and also check out http://www.cs.yale.edu/~douglas-craig/bells and http://soda.csua.berkeley.edu/~maestro/stat.htm.
Gerald Martindale, carillonneur at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church (email: email@example.com), can help put you in touch with a local carillonneur (carillon player) if there is one. there is one. Mr. Martindale has created a concert of international lullabies, representing some of the countries participating in FASDay, and would be pleased to share his arrangements with other international carillonneurs.
Once you know where, and who you will go to, you can download the FASDay information from FASworld and present it to this person. If this building is a church, you may wish to speak briefly to the congregation on one of the Sundays before FASDay, and explain why the bell will be ringing at 9:09 this year.
You may want to have a small program in the church or near the bell tower, for 20 minutes to a half-hour before 9:09 a.m. Notify your child’s school, friends of FASD and related organizations that you think would be interested, e.g., your local ARC (U.S.) Association for Community Living (Canada), Exchange Club, homelessness and anti-poverty coalitions, John Howard and Elizabeth Fry Societies and every single friend or relative you can convince to come.
No bells in your community? Use other musical instruments of your choice: drums, cymbals, whatever. One FASDay supporter shook her grandmother’s old school bell – and a group in a small northern Canadian community approached their local fire department! Even your phone can ring the bells at 9:09 simply set your alarm to ring bells at this time on 9.9.19.
This should be a happy occasion. Those ringing bells – or whatever else you choose – will be a powerful auditory reminder that we are all connected to the planet and each other.
EVEN YOUR LITTLES CAN DO A BELL CONCORDANCE: Check it out here.
Unfortunately, many church bells are now rung by computer, making it difficult to ring the bells off-schedule, and this may be the case in your community.
If a large bell or carillon is not accessible or appropriate, participants can do many things to observe that special minute – in accordance with your own cultural background or religious beliefs. You could organize or participate in a Minute of Reflection on 9/9/19 at 9:09 a.m. (or p.m.).
9 Ideas for a Minute of Reflection on FASDay
In this magical moment – the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month – we want to get out the message that in the nine months of pregnancy, while breastfeeding or planning to conceive, celebrate 049 (zero alcohol). In this minute, we also want the world to remember the millions of people around the world who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The Minute of Reflection symbolizes the worldwide circle of community which links all of us who care about FASD, all the people with FASD, all who are working towards prevention, all who are trying to help individuals with FASD reach their full potential.
Here are nine more suggestions for observing the Minute of Reflection. If you have other ideas, please share them below.
- Alone or with others, sit outside quietly and listen to the birds, or the wind blowing through the trees, or water lapping against the shore of a river or lake. You may want to focus on the wonderful gifts and strengths of the person (s) with FASD in your life.
- Say a prayer or recite a poem appropriate to your beliefs, such as the lovely FASDay invocation written for Toronto’s 1999 observance by Sister Eileen Power; or the nonreligious poem “The Integrity of Hope,” by Michael Kami. Both are copied below. Red Shoes Rock is still looking for other suitable selections and would welcome suggestions. Leave a comment here or visit their Facebook page.
- Sing a song or hymn. A musical member of FASN Toronto suggests Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom” or even singing “Rockabye Baby” as a round. Other suggestions welcome.
- Listen to an excerpt of your favorite music. (Again, any suggestions?)
- Play a musical instrument, alone, or with fellow musicians — or ring tiny bells and “triangles” as the children of Queen of Apostles School, Toledo, OH did at 9:09 a.m. on September 9, 1999.
- Sit in a circle and share some pure spring water with people you care about.
- Place a long-distance phone call to a special friend who is equally committed to the FASD issue: you could even make it a three-way or teleconference call.
- You may find 9:09 a.m. inconvenient and may prefer to mark the Minute of Reflection at 9:09 p.m., and light a candle to symbolize both the flame of your love for individuals with FASD, and your burning desire to eradicate this preventable disease.
- Simple silence. Each person with FASD is different, and those of us who love them respect their differences. Respecting each other while working together is what FASDay is about.
Invocation for FASDay
by Sr. Eileen Power, CND
This inclusive prayer was written and delivered by Sister Eileen Power at the 1999 Toronto observance. It’s freely available for anyone in the world who wants to use it, However please credit Sister Eileen Power, a teaching sister of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Toronto. Please note, in brackets I changed the year to 2019 and updated the reference to FASD.
O Great Spirit, Creator of the Universe, we gather on the ninth minute of the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month (in the year 2019).
Our connection with our whole world is made visible in a special way today. People in every time zone gather, as we gather, to change our world. By our coming together and our working together, we will make the world better. Accept our prayers with all who are praising you this very moment and with all who will gather today.
(As we gather), we are filled with hope, O Ever-Creating God, that in the circle of life, in the cosmos, in the womb, in our hearts, your hope goes round, your strength goes round, your power goes round, your love goes round and our hearts and spirits are joined in a new birth.
We gather to intensify our awareness of the fragile beauty of life from the first moment of conception, of the privilege of the nine months of pregnancy, and of our resolve to help all children and adults with fetal (alcohol spectrum disorder) to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
All of our words, gestures and hopes of today:
Our silence and our bells,
Our dance and our reflection,
Our words and our drums,
Our children and our knots,
Our lullabies and our resolve,
All of our words, gestures and hopes of today,
Are powerful reminders that life is your gift to us.
May the drumming of our hearts, echoing the drum of the heartbeat of the universe, be the sound of your tender love. May the knot of our connections be ever firm.
And may this special moment on this special day continue to mark the beginning of change, for mothers, for fathers, for all children and for those yet-to-be, and for all of us who join in spirit today around this unique planet, so beautiful, so fragile, so large and yet so small.
Together, we are family.
The Integrity of Hope
by Michael Kami, 1993
Just as the gentle flutter of a butterfly’s wing
Can change the path of a hurricane
So the gentle beat of a child’s heart
Can change the destiny of the world.
Children are our future and our hope.
Only they determine humanity’s progress.
We must protect all children.
We must feed all children.
We must educate all children.
We must love all children.
They are we and we are they,
In a joint journey to a better future!
Let us know if you are doing anything! Post it below, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or post a selfie or photo of your event on the Red Shoes Rock Facebook page.