DANBURY, Conn. — Danbury's Emanuela Palmares has always been active in causes that she feels strongly about.
When she learned that the City of Danbury was not planning an event for World Autism Awareness Month in April, she decided to create something on her own.
She is organizing the Light Up City Hall Blue for Autism Awareness Month Ceremony, which will take place Monday, April 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Danbury City Hall.
"This is a light up blue movement where we will be lighting up buildings and monuments in and around Danbury's City Hall with blue lights," said Palmares, whose 5-year-old son, Caio, was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
It will be a sensory-friendly event to accommodate those with autism. The volume will be low, there will be a quiet room that children can go into if they need to and there will be earmuffs available as well.
"We are encouraging families to bring their children to this event. Regardless if they are 2 or 22, we want them to be celebrated that day and see that the whole building is going to be blue for them," she said.
"We hope this event will work to raise awareness about ASD and bring light to World Autism Month here in Danbury," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who will be speaking at the event. "The City of Danbury will continue to promote the acceptance of those diagnosed and acknowledge the fact that they will always have a place here in our community."
According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30 percent increase from 1 in 88 two years ago.
"We have a very large number of children on the autism spectrum in our area, and I don’t feel like that it’s talked about as much as it could be," Palmares said.
Many parents of children with autism feel isolated when their child is first diagnosed. She was one of them.
"I felt there was a stigma in having a child with a disability. I didn’t want my son to be labeled in any way," she said.
"At events such as Light Up Danbury, you get to see the depth and breadth of the diversity within the autism spectrum. We get to stand proud with our children and say this is what you are going through and we love you," she said.
Palmares, who is editor-in-chief of Tribuna, a biweekly publication in English, Portuguese and Spanish, said she is hoping this will become an annual event.
The event is supported by the Commission for Persons with disAbilities in Danbury.
For more information on the Light Up City Hall Blue for Autism Awareness Month Ceremony, click here.
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