GREENVILLE — The public has been asked to join Greenville Kiwanis Aktion Club (a service leadership program comprised of 42 adults with disabilities) in spreading awareness by “lighting it up blue” in April in commemoration of Autism Awareness Month.
The lights were donated by Lowes and Walmart. The Aktion Club then distributed them to local businesses for them to put up and show their support of the Light It Up Blue campaign, raise awareness and support for those with autism.
“Lowes and Walmart have generously donated blue bulbs for people to display in their business for the month of April,” according to Eric Lee, information technology/public relations specialist for the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities. “World Autism Awareness Day is held each April 2, and the celebration continues throughout the month of April. The Aktion Club hopes to continue seeing blue lights the whole month of April. Autism Speaks has some great information on their website about the world campaign for autism, and especially in regards to the #LIUB autism awareness campaign. https://www.autismspeaks.org/liub/how-to-liub.”
For this campaign, there are posters reading, “We are lighting it up blue for autism awareness.” said a spokesperson.
Those interested can pick up your bulb and poster from Amber and Matt at the Visitor’s Bureau.
“Remember….take a selfie and #lightitupblue and tag Darke DD on Facebook — you can follow the Facebook link to like our page,” a spokesperson said.
Aktion Club became an official Service Leadership Program of Kiwanis International on Oct. 1, 2000. It was first organized out of a Florida Kiwanis district, and the concept spread by word of mouth from there. Aktion Club draws members from various organizations that support individuals with disabilities, and worldwide, has more than 12,000 members. Below is a list of some of the organization’s goals and values:
• Motto: Where development has no disability.
• Vision: To develop competent, capable, caring leaders through the vehicle of service.
• Mission: To provide adults living with disabilities an opportunity to develop initiative, leadership skills and to serve their communities.
• Core values:
1. Character building: The ability to the right thing, even when it might be the unpopular choice
2. Leadership: The ability to listen, communicate, serve and guide others
3. Inclusiveness: Accepting and welcoming differences in other people
4. Caring: The act of being concerned about or interested in other people or situations
• Pledge: “I pledge on my honor to follow the Objects of Aktion Club. To better my community,my country and myself. To help those in need. To demonstrate loyalty to our community and nation. And to encourage others to do the same.”
“The goal of Aktion Club’s recent activities and involvement in the ‘Light It Up Blue’ campaign here in Darke County in the most simple terms is to raise awareness,” Lee said. “The hope is to get people involved in events and educational activities to increase understanding and acceptance and help support people with autism.”
He went on to say, “As far as the increase in numbers of diagnoses, according to the CDC, more people than ever before are being diagnosed with ASD. It is unclear how much of this increase is due to a broader definition of ASD and better efforts in diagnosis. However, a true increase in the number of people with an ASD cannot be ruled out. The increase in ASD diagnosis is likely due to a combination of these factors.”
Generally, autism is diagnosed after 4 years of age (on average). More information can be found online at www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/research.html.
It was noted that nearly a quarter century ago, the Autism Society launched a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. This year, officials want to go beyond simply promoting autism awareness to encouraging friends and collaborators to become partners in movement toward acceptance and appreciation.
“Let’s embrace a new perspective,” one spokesperson said. “For over 50 years we have worked in communities (both large and small) to ensure our actions, through our services and programming, supported all individuals living with autism. Let’s expand this work to focus on the rest of us — ensuring acceptance and inclusion in schools and communities that results in true appreciation of the unique aspects of all people. We want to get one step closer to a society where those with ASDs are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts. Join us in celebration for 2017 National Autism Awareness Month! National Autism Awareness Month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.”