Red shoes are about to hit Whanganui's streets - but not all of them will be on people's feet.
Whanganui District Health Board is promoting foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) awareness month during September, and health promoter Chester Penaflor will paint red shoes on more than 50 rocks and then place them around the city in support of the Red Shoes Rock kaupapa.
The Red Shoes Rock is an international movement that raises awareness of FASD, which is caused by a mother's alcohol use during pregnancy.
Penaflor said the month is a time for pregnant women, their whānau and support networks to remember that drinking during pregnancy can cause lifelong problems for their unborn baby.
"Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder lasts a lifetime and there is no cure. Problems can include behavioural and intellectual disabilities and heart defects."
FASD Day is marked on Wednesday, September 9, and Penaflor encourages people to wear their favourite red shoes to help start conversations about the topic.
"During September we take the opportunity to kōrero and educate family and friends about the importance of abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy."
Penaflor said there is no safe time, type or amount to drink when pregnant.
He said alcohol in the bloodstream passes easily through the placenta and the baby is exposed to the same blood alcohol level as the mother.
Drinking while pregnant can also increase the chance of premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth, Penaflor said.
"By raising awareness about what causes FASD and the tragic consequences it can have on people's lives, we hope to encourage mothers not to drink while pregnant or when trying to get pregnant."
Penaflor is a member of the Whanganui FASD Network Group, which includes Ministry of Education educational psychologist Johanna Poole, who said in some cases women may not even know they're pregnant when drinking.
"It is so important that we support mothers, whānau, and tamariki impacted by FASD, rather than try to direct blame.
"Even those who know they are not supposed to drink during pregnancy may not fully understand the impact alcohol may have on their child."