By Derek Fawaz, CBS 62 and CW50 Intern
Why are the Mackinaw Bridge and Renaissance Center buildings turning blue on April 2, 2016? They will help raise awareness for autism through the Autism Speaks international campaign, “Light It Up Blue,” on World Autism Awareness Day. This campaign will light up Detroit using their trademark blue lights to shine a number of beacons in honor of the 70 million people affected by autism. It’s a creative and fun way to remind those who have the disorder that work is being done to help them live better lives.
In Detroit the Pistons with NBA Cares are participating with “Light It Up Blue” to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day. In addition to the bridge and Ren Cen, other Detroit landmarks will turn blue including the Fisher Building, Fox Theater, MGM Casino, and the DTE Energy Headquarters. At both the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses, the students will paint their school rocks blue in honor of Autism Awareness Day. College students from Western Michigan to Eastern Michigan plan to decorate their dormitories, fraternities, and sororities with the color blue.
The color blue represents the ability to communicate and feel comfortable with self-expression. That’s why Autism Speaks chose this color for its “Light It Up Blue” campaign. The organization’s mission is to help people with autistic family members come forward to tell their stories and bring their concerns to the public. Politicians and other influential people also speak about the disorder to show their support and create a unified movement with the autistic community.
“Light It Up Blue” is an important campaign for the neurological disorder because it can affect anyone. As stated on the Autism Speaks website, “It is the fastest growing developmental disorder that affects 1 in 68 children.” It is a health concern that is widespread. On the campaign site, parents of autistic children discussed how the skills, talents, and communication their children expressed made them stronger people over the years.
The “Light It Up Blue” campaign encourages donations to fund biomedical research. This way specialists can discover new ways to diagnose the disorder in children at the earliest age possible. “Light It Up Blue” funds this mission through the sale of merchandise, including yard signs, wristbands, and custom-made T-shirts.
“Light It Up Blue” is not just a campaign, but a fascinating exploration into the world of autism. It brings hope and joy to people while recognizing a global health concern as something beautiful. For World Autism Awareness Day, the people of Detroit have a chance to celebrate autistic individuals and help them see blue without feeling it.
Derek Fawaz is a writer and aspiring filmmaker from Dearborn, Mich. with a passion for research. Derek is an intern at CBS 62 and CW50, a graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor with a degree in Screen Arts & Cultures. He is also a Communications student at the University of Michigan Dearborn.