Panthers work to raise awareness of autism

Panthers work to raise awareness of autism

March 30, 2016

Senior Mike White knows a lot about autism because he lives with the disorder every day.

When he was a child, he was diagnosed with an acute form of autism called Asperger’s.

“It affects social interaction, motor skills and verbal communication,” he said. “But therapy helped me learn how to cope with it and live a normal life.”

Mike, a Business Administration major, is a forward on the Panther basketball team. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been involved in raising awareness of autism, and have participated in activities to mark World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

Jennifer Claybrook, Athletic Director, is proud of the players’ commitment to the cause.

“It is an issue that has directly impacted some of our players and their families,” she said. “Last year, the teams wore blue wristbands in a game to show their support. Unfortunately Autism Awareness Day occurs during Spring Break this year. That’s why the students decided to paint the Residential Quad Rocks blue before they left for their break.”

World Autism Awareness Day was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to call attention to autism as a growing global health priority. Every year on the designated day, Autism Speaks celebrates its international “Light It Up Blue” campaign.

Thousands of iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, schools, businesses and homes across the globe are bathed in blue light in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism.
This year’s participants include One World Trade Center; Madison Square Garden; Gillette Stadium; Macy’s; Bloomingdale’s; Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles; the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; the Suez Canal; the Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan; the U.S. Bank Tower (tallest building in California); and the Canadian National Tower (tallest structure in Canada).

Here on campus, both faces of the clock tower, the columns of Banks Hall and the Park Avenue wall of Callaway Science Building will be lighted blue.

Lee Buchanan, Head Women’s Basketball Coach, said his team enjoys the opportunity to help others.

“We try to get involved with special groups and organizations as much as possible,” he said. “The coaching staff has worn Autism Puzzle pins during games, and the team was involved in painting the Rocks.”

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