Visitors to Camana Bay will have noticed that it’s been looking a little blue lately.
The new blue look is temporary and is part of a joint effort between the Special Needs Foundation of Cayman, Camana Bay, Cayman’s Acts of Random Kindness, or ARK, and Tower Marketing to help raise awareness about autism as part of World Autism Awareness Day on Monday, 2 April.
Light It Up Blue is a worldwide campaign as part of Autism Speaks, where buildings and landmarks are lit up blue to help shine a light on autism. Camana Bay joins the Empire State building in New York, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, CN Tower in Toronto, Niagara Falls and other landmarks worldwide in being lit up in blue.
Emma Donaldson, administrative director of the Special Needs Foundation of Cayman, has been a part of the global policy and autism advocacy community for the past six years.
“Many children here in Cayman are not properly diagnosed and some parents are not aware of the signs of autism. The Special Needs Foundation is here locally as a source to provide this knowledge. We believe that all individuals with special needs should have a voice and be given the same opportunities as everyone else,” Ms Donaldson said.
According to the latest estimate by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases of autism has increased by 25 per cent and one in 88 children in the US has the disorder.
No official figures are available locally in Cayman.
To mark World Autism Awareness Day, the Camana Bay Town Centre was lit in blue from Saturday, 31 March and will continue to be blue until Tuesday, 3 April.
Special Needs Foundation of Cayman and volunteers for Cayman’s ARK will have an information booth in front of the Discovery Centre at Camana Bay from 11am to 4pm on Monday, 2 April.
“Our main objective is to help the community gain awareness for autism, as well as other special needs,” Ms Donaldson said.
Workers are also being asked to wear blue to work on Monday and to donate $5 for the Special Needs Foundation to help raise awareness of the disorder.
The term “autism” describes a group of complex developmental brain disorders, known as autism spectrum disorders, caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. A new case of autism is diagnosed every 15 minutes.
More children are diagnosed each year with autism than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined, with boys being five times more likely than girls to have the disorder.
There is no medical detection or cure for autism, but early diagnosis and intervention can improve outcomes.
To become a member, volunteer or donate to the Special Needs Foundation of Cayman, e-mail [email protected]