Gulf Coast School for Autism ‘Light it up Blue’ for World Autism Awareness Day

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.

Local people on the autism spectrum, their families, and their advocates raised awareness, by using glow sticks to light up the night.

The Gulf Coast School for Autism sponsored the event called “Light it up Blue” at Neon’s Beach Shack.

Participants used blue glow sticks to kick off this month, focused on supporting and celebrating those with autism.


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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says one out of every 36 children fall on the autism spectrum.

The Gulf Coast School for Autism began in 2012 to help those children here in our community.

They’ve held ‘the Light it up Blue’ event every year.

“Our goal today is for everybody to see their abilities and what our kids can do and what they love to do. They really do love to go on stage. They really do love to be in the community,” Gulf Coast School for Autism Founder Katrin Patterson said.

More than 20 kids participated, enjoying some food, playing games, and performing songs and dances.

“They have great abilities. I mean, I’ve seen them with music, with their dance, with their art. I mean, they’re very talented,” Gulf Coast School for Autism teacher Jessica Banks said.

“It’s great to see the kids out here having a good time,” Gulf Coast School for Autism teacher Chantell Fowler said.

This is the second year Neon’s beach shack has hosted the world autism awareness day event.

Owner, Brandi Cox, says she’s thrilled to be able to contribute.

“It’s a great organization, just helping kids out that have autism, which, as you know, is a very serious situation in America with a lot more diagnoses every year of children. So we all got to do what we can to try to help that and make sure that they have a great place to go to school and to learn as well,” Neon’s Beach Shack said.


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The kids are a part of Neon’s.

Some of them painted two cornhole boards inside the bar.

Cox said she’s planning to host more events with the school.

“We just want to continue to help support the community the best that we can and just have a great place for all of us to go,” Cox said.

The United Nations designated April 2nd as world autism awareness day in 2008.

Gulf Coast School for Autism founder, Katrin Patterson has two more events planned, one this spring and another one this summer.

Gulf Coast School for Autism

Gulf Coast Autism Clinic

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