A blue button which can be purchased at Autism Yukon to help support World Autism Month and Light Yukon Up Blue. (Submitted/Autism Yukon)

World Autism Month underway

Light Yukon Blue continues despite COVID-19

Yukoners are joining the international community in recognizing World Autism Month and although it’s taking a different tone this year, the effort to raise awareness and focus on autism is continuing.

April marks World Autism Month. The initiative kicked off April 2 with World Autism Awareness Day, first declared by the UN in 2008. Support for the campaign is displayed with blue lights lit up at homes, businesses and other buildings.

“We understand the COVID-19 pandemic is causing disruption to our daily lives but please join this global campaign Light It Up Blue while staying at home and being safe,” Autism Speaks Canada, an advocate group for those on the spectrum, stated on its website.

The Yukon effort takes the form of Light Yukon Up Blue.

Autism Yukon executive director Leslie Peters said March 30 that in past years the initiative has served as a fundraiser. This year, though blue lights were sold through Autism Yukon, it became more of an awareness campaign.

“The biggest impact that COVID-19 has had on Light Yukon Up Blue is that it has basically turned it from a fundraiser into an awareness event,” Peters said. “We had hoped to bring some income in to Autism Yukon in order to fund workshops that we would like to bring to the Yukon. Now, I don’t think we will cover the costs of the advertising and purchasing of blue lights to sell.”

Autism Yukon hosts a number of workshops throughout the year. In the past, workshop and conference sessions have ranged from seeing the spectrum differently to managing behaviours and more. Along with a variety of workshops held throughout the year, some in partnership with other organizations, Autism Yukon also normally hosts support groups for family members, gatherings for families, and offers a sensory room among other things, all of which are on-hold.

Advertising and planning for the Light Yukon Up Blue event was already underway with blue lights and buttons marking the annual event to be sold at Wykes’ Your Independent Grocer as well as the Autism Yukon office for the campaign, with the funds from the sales going to Autism Yukon.

The Government of Yukon’s Administration Building sign encircled in blue lights for World Autism Month and the Light Yukon Up Blue campaign. (Submitted/Autism Yukon)

On March 17, however, Autism Yukon announced it would no longer be able to sell buttons and lights at Wykes’ due to COVID-19 concerns.

Rather, supporters were encouraged to contact Autism Yukon for lights and button orders of more than $20 with the organization to deliver the orders to Whitehorse doorsteps on March 31.

“I thought that perhaps we’d have to cancel, but our families that had been working hard on this said, ‘No—it is what it is—lets run with this.’ So we have, and it’s been encouraging,” Peters said.

Those who wanted to support the campaign but are unable to purchase lights were encouraged to use blue Christmas lights to light up their homes or businesses.

Despite the change, Peters says the Autism Yukon board has no regrets in moving forward with the event.

“A lot of our members are still eagerly participating, and we have been able to create a lot of awareness about autism, which is our biggest goal,” she said.

Based on the purchases of lights and families she’s spoken to, Peters said at least 20 households participated in Light Yukon Up Blue this year.

“I definitely think that people will participate as much this year…perhaps more, which is what it’s all about after all,” she noted, stating she’s looking forward to seeing photos of local buildings lit up blue.

As planned originally, there will be prizes awarded to one participating household and one participating business.

Autism Speaks Canada also encouraged supporters throughout the country to raise awareness through #LightUpBlue frames to social media profile pictures, by posting selfies featuring “I Love LIUB” signs, creating Facebook fundraisers for the cause, and also offered a colouring page for kids that could be downloaded and printed to then be displayed in windows.

While the Light Yukon Up Blue event is largely serving as an awareness tool this year, Autism Yukon staff are continuing to work from home planning for the months ahead.

“Rebecca, Nicole, Karen and Leslie will continue to work on LAUNCH into Life, Project Lifesaver, and Caregiver Skills Training planning from home. We will continue to look for PEERS funding as well,” it’s stated on the group’s Facebook page with officials also noting they look forward to reopening the sensory room to clients when it is deemed safe to do so.

Peters said the group will also be looking at potential fundraising events to be held later in the year. In the meantime, Autism Awareness Month will continue throughout April with a Kindness Quest theme this year. Autism Speaks is posting a kindness quest each week on its Facebook page.

Its first quest is to “spread understanding and acceptance for people with autism.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read