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Bond lights it up blue for World Autism Awareness Day

What do the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Dubai’s Burj Al Arab and Bond University have in common?

On April 2, they’ll all be bathed in blue light for World Autism Awareness Day – along with more than 3000 landmarks, government buildings, businesses, community centres and private homes in 50 countries on six continents.

Here on the Gold Coast, Sofitel Hotel at Broadbeach, Skypoint’s Observation Deck at the top of Q1 and the Gold Coast City Council will join Bond University in the worldwide ‘Light It Up Blue’ initiative to show their support of more than 600 local families living with autism.

In partnership with Autism Gold Coast, the Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) at Bond University will also host a community carnival to mark the official light up and the launch of Autism Awareness Day.

“Autism Spectrum Disorders now affect one in 110 Australian children,” said CASD Director, Professor Vicki Bitsika. “It is the second most common developmental disability and yet there is very little public awareness about what these children and their families have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

“On April 2, we are lighting up buildings at Bond as a symbol of our commitment to children with an ASD and their families. This event also aims to provide these families with an opportunity to come together to share their stories and connect with others who face the same challenges as them

“Members of the wider community are also invited to come along and learn more about how we can support these families and become aware of the abilities of individuals with an autism condition.”

Bond’s Light It Up Blue event gets underway at 5pm on Wednesday, April 2 with a program of children’s entertainment including jugglers, magicians, face-painting, balloon artists, street performers and live music.

Official speakers will include Bond University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Brailsford, Helen Steinhardt from Autism Gold Coast and Professor Bitsika.

At 7pm, the switches will be turned on to illuminate the Lake Orr fountain and the dramatic Arch building with blue lights.

“This is the third year that we have hosted this event and it’s particularly exciting to see how the entire Bond community has embraced it,” said Professor Bitsika.

“For 2014, we have five student associations involved in various aspects, including the Faculty of Society and Design’s Student Association, the Bond Sony Children’s Camp team, the Philanthropy Council, the Bond University Music Society and our A Capella choir who will be part of the entertainment line-up.

“We have also been overwhelmed by the generosity of local groups and businesses like Magic Circle, Balloon Kings, Astonish Inc and Circus Stars who have donated or discounted their services for the event.

“We’re expecting more than 300 people to be here on campus for the carnival and light up but we hope that many more people will mark the occasion in individual ways – by putting a blue light bulb outside their house perhaps or simply by wearing something blue on the day – so we can spread the word even further.”

For more information on Bond University’s Light It Up Blue event, contact Jean Stevens at the Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorders on 5595 1596 or email [email protected]

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