Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) have a profound impact on individuals and families living with the condition. Even in today’s society, many are ignorant of the condition and the potential impacts of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Enter Andrew Keeping, an individual who has not only embraced the cause of FASD awareness but has become a guiding light for those navigating the challenges posed by these disorders. Keeping’s journey, rooted in personal experience and enriched by his musical talents, has transcended the boundaries of advocacy, leading to profound changes in perception and policy surrounding FASDs.
FASD, an umbrella term encompassing a range of conditions arising from prenatal alcohol exposure, represents a permanent challenge to physical and mental development. Andrew Keeping, a distinguished concert classical guitarist, embarked on a remarkable journey when his personal life converged with the world of disability advocacy. Keeping and his wife have opened their hearts and home to foster care, specializing in individuals with complex needs for over twenty years. This experience introduced them to the complexities of FASDs, igniting Keeping’s passion for advocacy.
In 2018, Keeping played a pivotal role in establishing FASD Awareness, a charity dedicated to preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies and improving the lives of those living with FASDs. With Tracy Allen as its founder, FASD Awareness found a steadfast leader in Keeping. His commitment was unwavering as he transitioned from Chairman of the Board of Trustees to Chief Executive in 2021.
Under Keeping’s guidance, FASD Awareness flourished, and after adapting to the new post-COVID online world, the organization has rapidly become one of the UK’s leading FASD charities. Innovative programs, initiatives, and campaigns sprang to life, shedding light on the lesser-known aspects of FASDs. Central to this initiative is the #BeAware campaign, designed to educate through cinematic explorations and real-life scenarios. Keeping partnered with a former student and award-winning filmmaker, Max Blustin (New Planet Film and Media), instrategically utilizingquality educational films and case studies that bridge the knowledge gap and kindle empathy for individuals grappling with the challenges of FASDs.
One hallmark of Keeping’s advocacy is his ability to think beyond traditional approaches. His musical expertise has proven to be an unexpected bridge between FASD awareness and meaningful change. Collaborating with professionals and specialists, Keeping has pioneered therapeutic programs that employ music technology as a catalyst for growth. Through this fusion of music and therapy, individuals with learning disabilities, behavioral difficulties, and conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have discovered transformative channels for self-expression and personal development.
What sets Keeping apart as an advocate is his determination to influence policy at the highest levels. As CEO of FASD Awareness, he wields his position to champion the rights of individuals with disabilities. This includes active collaboration with governmental bodies, healthcare professionals, and educational institutions. Keeping’s advocacy at the policy level translates to tangible changes prioritizing the needs and dignity of those affected by FASDs.
At the core of Keeping’s advocacy lies an aspiration for a more inclusive society. His commitment to breaking barriers and fostering acceptance permeates every endeavor. By sharing personal experiences and the narratives of those living with disabilities, he seeks to shatter stereotypes and unveil the diverse talents residing within every individual.
The symphony of FASD advocacy, Andrew Keeping has emerged as an inspiration, with his commitment to spreading awareness, showing empathy, and bringing change. His journey, founded on personal experience and guided by a musical spirit, embodies the transformative power of dedication and has a long-lasting impact on FASD awareness and disability advocacy.