Dispensers at Yukon College, Dirty Northern pub
Society aims 'to make it normal that we check for pregnancy before we drink'
A project to install pregnancy test dispensers in two women's washrooms has special significance for at least one Yukon mother.
Jessica Fulmer has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and became pregnant herself as a 19-year-old student.
Fulmer says the nearest pharmacy to Yukon College is a bus ride away in downtown Whitehorse.
"Nine years ago when I found out I was pregnant it would have been a lot easier for me to go to the college washroom and grab a test rather than have to go through a few hoops," she says.
Fulmer says offering a discreet vending machine in the women's washroom will help women on campus learn they are pregnant earlier. She hopes this small change could help to prevent FASD and refer women to available support.
"It was scary. It is scary to learn you are pregnant," she said. "This is one thing that will help break the stigma, to break that cycle."
A timely reminder
Wenda Bradley says the idea of putting dispensers in washrooms comes from a U.S. nonprofit called Healthy Brains for Children based in Minnesota.
FASSY is funding the project which has placed pregnancy test dispensers in two women's washrooms in Whitehorse: Yukon College's Ayamdigut campus and the Dirty Northern Public House, a downtown pub, as part of a two-year study led by the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Bradley hopes that one day pregnancy test dispensers become as commonplace as condom dispensers in public washrooms.
The dispensers feature graphics as well as a bar card that, when scanned by a smart phone, provides information on FASD.
If people scan the code and complete a survey they become eligible for a $15 iTunes gift card — a small incentive says Bradley, but one that will provide valuable information about the service that will contribute to the study.
"It's important that we all get the message out and create opportunities for people to make informed choices" she says.
A separate project in Dawson City, funded by the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program, will install pregnancy test dispensers in women's washrooms in the lobby of the Downtown Hotel and in the Westminster Lounge in coming weeks. Those pregnancy tests will cost $4.
The pregnancy tests in Whitehorse will cost $2; the machine accepts loonies only.