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Campus Recognition of World Autism Awareness Day to Benefit Moody Clinic

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BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 27, 2014 – In recognition of the sixth annual United Nations World Autism Awareness Day, communication students from The University of Texas at Brownsville are sponsoring a “Light it up Blue” campus expo to raise autism awareness from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2.
 
The “Light it up Blue” theme of Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization, will dominate the courtyard at Main that day with music, games, “blue” baked goods, information tables and a free speech alley.
 
Dr. John Cook, Associate Professor of Communication.
All funds raised during the expo will be donated to Brownsville’s Moody Clinic, a non-profit outpatient rehabilitation therapy clinic for children with special needs. Deborah Sears, Moody Clinic Director, will be among the speakers scheduled over the lunch hour.
 
Difficult Dialogues for Valuing Diversity, an elective communication class taught by Dr. John Cook, Associate Professor of Communication, and the Communication Council, a student-led campus organization, are in charge of the day’s events.
 
“We were so impressed when the UTB Communication Council students made a fact-finding visit to Moody Clinic,” said Carol DeMoss, Community Patient Liaison at Moody Clinic. “They were inquisitive and asked appropriate and meaningful questions. And then we visited their class, and we were even more amazed at the way they are going about setting up this event. Dr. Cook is letting them take charge, and we watched them sharing ideas and being inventive, and that was exciting for us to see.”
 
Alexandra Huerta, a senior marketing and communication student from Brownsville and the Communication Department event coordinator intern, said the most popular game of the day will undoubtedly be the paint balloon toss.
 
“Dr. Cook has bravely volunteered to be the target of these blue paint balloons,” Huerta said. “What student, no matter their major, wouldn’t love to take aim at a professor – even one we all love – to see him suffer, just a little, as the balloons are hurled in his direction.”
 
Other activities will include blue nail polish manicures, a photo booth and face painting with puzzle piece shapes, the autism icon.
 
Students have begun selling $5 raffle tickets for drawings that will take place toward the end of the expo, between 1:30-2 p.m. The top prize is a new Kindle donated by Philly Cheesesteak; second is a Sony hand-held video camera; third is four passes to Cinemark Theater; fourth is a blender; fifth is a Red Lobster gift card; and sixth is a backpack.
 
In the evening, a free showing of “Rain Man” will take place at 7 p.m. in Salon Cassia, second floor of Main. Donations for the movie will be accepted, and all funds from movie refreshment sales will also go to Moody Clinic.
 
April is Autism Awareness Month; in 2008 the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 to be World Autism Awareness Day. On April 2, the Empire State Building in New York City, among other iconic buildings throughout the world, will be lit with blue lights in recognition of Autism Speaks “Light it up Blue.”
 
On the UTB campus, the Main fountain on University Boulevard will join these global icons with its own blue lights.
 
For more information, contact Dr. John Cook or events coordinator Alexandra Huerta 956-882-8851 or john.a.cook@utb.edu and ale_3191@hotmail.com.
 
Follow the communication students on Facebook at Light it Up Blue at UTB.

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