by Catherine Ninteman
The Light It Up Blue event held at the John Spoor Broome Library celebrated individuals worldwide who have autism, while also recognizing members of the CI community and members of Ventura County.
“This event is a really, really important event for a couple of reasons,” Dr. Tiina Itkonen, an Associate Professor of Education and Political Science, explained. “One, it really is important for the cause for individual talents and differences and that we celebrate everyone. The second importance of this event is that this is an international event. The United Nations declared (an) international awareness day on April 2 — so the fact that CI is partaking in this event puts us at the same level as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Sydney Opera House. This event makes us a part of the broader world community in this cause.”
The Light It Up Blue event takes place on campus every year on April 2, which is recognized as World Autism Awareness Day, and includes an autism resource fair during the first hour of the event. The resource fair provides information for the public about the different resources that families with children to young adults who have autism can access. These resources include in-home or assisted living care, school care and different forms of behavior therapy and advice on working with those different behaviors.
Members of the sorority Zeta Pi Omega, who dedicated their time and commitment to the event, spoke about their experiences. “(It’s a) really great event,” Molly Quigley, a communication major, said. “It definitely brings awareness to autism and I think it brings everybody together in the community, and it was really nice and empowering to hear everybody’s stories and it just changes your perspective.”
Delaney Schaefer, an early childhood studies major, stated, “It’s definitely really eye-opening, and how they picked different types of people, different types of majors, all that shows that everybody has a story in this event.”
Many of the speakers were members of the CI community — some who have autism, and others who have a relation to autism by ways of exposure or prior knowledge. Dorian Beaver, a psychology major, spoke at the event about her life growing up with autism and feeling like an outsider. She stated that she “appreciates the support and CI has a good network to take care of everybody.”
At the end of the event, the audience was given tea lights that shined blue as a symbol of their support. The shining lights sparkled in the audience as a way to represent their uniqueness and individualism, and to celebrate everyone coming together as a community and showing their support for the event.