World Autism Awareness Day Wrap-Up

April 03, 2012

World Autism Awareness Day Wrap-Up

As I am sure you are all aware, yesterday marked the 5th annual World Autism Awareness Day. Yesterday’s events were a great kick-off to April, which is Autism Awareness Month. This annual celebration was commissioned by the United Nations back in 2007 as a means to spread awareness of this all-too-common disorder as well as coordinate fundraising events designed to bolster research on autism, its causes and treatments. As we all take time to reflect on yesterday’s events and messages, I wanted to give a rundown of the amazing sights, sounds and results of World Autism Awareness Day 2012 plus a preview of the month ahead. Light It Up Blue The symbolism of light when one is faced with any sort of battle, whether it is health-related or personal, is strong and universal. Three years ago, Autism Speaks, the United States’ largest autism advocacy organization, designed the Light It Up Blue Campaign to run in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day. The campaign asks individuals, businesses, and famous landmarks to ‘wear’ blue, either through clothing choices or through blue-tinted light. The goal of the campaign is to show support for the families and individuals dealing with the struggles of autism on a daily basis as well as raise awareness of the universal support for this cause. This year, the Light It Up Blue campaign hit some of the world’s most famous landmarks including the Empire State Building in New York, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, The Sydney Opera House, Niagara Falls, Cairo Tower in Egypt and many more. A complete slide show of the Light It Up Blue landmarks is available for view on Autism Speaks’ Light It Up Blue website. It is a truly amazing montage. Finding a Cure Though awareness is the primary goal of World Autism Awareness Day, running a close second is the multi-channel fundraising efforts that are run in conjunction with the day’s activities. As we all know, and I report far too often, the more we learn about autism, the less we feel like we actually know. An important part of World Autism Awareness Day is to help launch private and public funding for autism research through the UN itself. This year, the Autism Speaks’ webpage for World Autism Awareness Day took donations directly. In addition, the UN announced the launch of a new series of UN postal stamps featuring the designs of eight autistic artists from around the world. In addition, several local chapters of Autism Speaks and other advocacy groups sponsored events yesterday, and will continue to do so throughout the month of April, in order to continue to promote autism awareness and raise research funds for a cure. A Month-Long Celebration Although World Autism Day has already ended, the month of April is special in the autism community because of its emphasis on raising awareness and funds for this condition. Autism Speaks, in conjunction with several nationally-known companies and brands, will continue to offer events, special deals and incentives throughout the month of April to help continue to raise awareness and funds for research. Some of the most notable partnerships include:
  • Toys R Us – the company has launched dual campaigns. The first will solicit donations for Autism Speaks at the checkout of both Toys R Us retail stores and online. In addition, the company has identified “Ten Toys the Speak to Autism” which are designed to help promote the social, language and cognitive skills that autistic children struggle to master.
  • Chevrolet – the American automobile manufacturer has already committed $500,000 to Autism Speaks, but is offering to make an additional $1 donation (up to $1 million) for every person who visits the Autism Speaks website and takes a virtual test drive of the new Chevy Malibu.
  • Barnes & Nobel Booksellers – 500 retail B&N stores across the nation will sponsor a special Storytime series in the month of April designed to promote Autism awareness through readings and discussions focused on autistic characters.
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop – During the month of April, Build-a-Bear will offer special purple satin hearts for $1, the proceeds of which will benefit Autism Speaks.
The goals of World Autism Awareness Day are some of the most universal among people. No matter one’s country of origin, political affiliations or personal beliefs, the fact, according to the latest data from the CDC this condition is striking our children at the alarming rate of 1 out of 54 boys and 1 out of 252 girls (or 1 in 88 children) in America alone. If we want to help these children we must continue to keep the spirit of World Autism Awareness Day and the month-long message of Autism Awareness Month present all year round.



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