On Monday, April 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, the sisters of Alpha Xi Delta teamed up with the Autism Speaks club to hold an event in the quad called “Light It Up Blue” to celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Blue is the color for autism, and “Light It Up Blue” aims to bring more awareness to students and faculty on campus.
Autism Awareness Month began nearly a quarter of a century ago. The Autism Society created it by launching a nationwide campaign to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all.
“Light It Up Blue” is held every year by sister of Alpha Xi Delta, Catie Donia. She explains that “about 10 years ago, Autism Speaks became Alpha Xi Delta’s national philanthropy. We’ve been celebrating ‘Light It Up Blue’ with the world since then.”
Donia also said that Alpha Xi Delta and Autism Speaks will definitely be hosting the event again next year as well.
Autism Speaks U is a new student organization that was created to further the mission of Autism Speaks by engaging the campus and local communities through awareness, education and fundraising. Doing so positively affects the lives of those struggling with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
As students were walking in the quad between classes on Monday, the “Light It Up Blue” event had free candy, stickers, tattoos, information pamphlets and wristbands. There were also puzzle pieces around the quad with autism facts on them and balloons to raise awareness. Donations were also being accepted during the event. All of the proceeds that were made at the event go towards Autism Speaks, which funds biomedical research into causes, prevention treatments and a cure for autism.
Third year pre-occupational therapy student Julia Rodden attended the event.
“I thought that “Light It Up Blue” was a great way to create awareness to the West Chester community. I am a pre-occupational therapy major, and I would like to work with autistic children in the future. So the event really hit home for me. I also thought that giving away information pamphlets about autism really gave students a better understanding about the situation,” Rodden said.
Donia also described how she felt about the event: “I think that the participants enjoyed the event. Many people in the academic quad approached us, thanking us for acknowledging autism and this awesome month. I am so passionate about this cause, and I felt so proud to be a part of such a great organization.”
If anyone would like more information about the event or either of the organizations that hosted the event, feel free to check out their Facebook pages: Alpha Xi Delta of West Chester University and Autism Speaks U West Chester University.
Devin Gerber is a fourth-year student majoring in communcation studies with a minor in journalism. Contact them at DG781831@wcupa.edu