This guest post is by Katherine Wallis, Tara D’Andrea & Maura Sullivan who are students from Autism Speaks U Marist College Chapter who raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks. Here is this story of how they are going to Light It Up Blue this year…
The Marist College chapter of Autism Speaks U has participated in Light it up Blue since 2014 when the club originated. We use this day to raise awareness around campus and to bring the college together as a community to support those with autism. Our rotunda building is in the middle of campus, and we light it up blue to join in with the thousands of other buildings that will be lit up around the world. This allows us to feel like we are a part of something bigger than just our campus. We have spent the entire day in this building with posters, signs, and tables to grab students’ attention. Students have filled in puzzle pieces that say, “I light it up blue for ___.” These puzzle pieces are hung around the area we are assigned. In the past we have tried to make this a fun and engaging event in which all students feel comfortable participating in together.
This year for Light it Up Blue, we will be doing many of the same things that we have done in the past. Our rotunda will be lit up blue at night, and throughout the day we will have posters all around the building with club members raising awareness. The puzzle pieces will be used again to allow students on campus to reflect on how this event touches their own lives. In addition, this year we will have our computers up for students who stop by the tables to join the pledge to wear blue in the month of April. To draw people in, we are going to make a frame for people to take pictures in to post the event on social media.
Our chapter participates in Light it Up Blue because it allows our club members to come together to create a community with other students. It is very beneficial for our campus to come together to recognize the importance of raising awareness for people with autism. We have found that almost everyone who walks by knows someone in their life with autism, and it is empowering to bring them into a community of people who are passionate in making a difference for these people. This event also allows our chapter to be a part of something bigger than us and feel connected to many others around the world.
Light It Up Blue to us means we are shining a light on those with autism. It allows us to be heard by people who may not have an understanding of what autism is or people who want to know how they can help in the journey to raise awareness. A few of our board members have siblings or family members with autism, and about half of our board is going to be teaching in the future. We do this event to honor the talents of our family members, future students, and any other Marist students who may be affected by this as well.