Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT Daphne Carter and Jolene Davis are pushing for Niles to Light It Up Blue for World Autism Awareness Day Monday. Look for the blue lights in the windows of Niles businesses.

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Blue Monday

Published 6:18pm Friday, March 30, 2012

If Niles looks a little blue on Monday, there is a good reason for it.

Niles residents Jolene Davis and Daphne Carter have been working hard the past couple weeks to get Niles to take part in the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day.

On Monday, iconic landmarks, universities, hotels and other places across the globe will be turning on blue lights for the Autism Speaks campaign: Light It Up Blue.

By illuminating landmarks in blue, these places will help shine a light on autism, which is affecting more and more people every day. According to statistics by Autism Speaks, autism affects 1 in every 54 boys and 1 in every 88 girls in the country.

Niles Community Schools currently has 25 students diagnosed with autism.

Carter has two autistic children: son Caden Carter, 6; and daughter Emily Carter, 8.

Davis’ nine-year-old son, Kobe Smith, also has autism.

Caden and Kobe attend Howard Elementary in Niles and Emily attends Ballard Elementary in Niles.

Davis and Carter have been asking downtown Niles business owners to put a blue light in their windows Monday and keep it shining all month. The two, along with Melody Colburn, were decorating the Four Flags Tourism building in Niles with autism awareness pieces Friday morning.

They’ve also given out blue lights to members of the community.

“We want to see if Niles could support autism awareness and light up the city blue,” Davis said.

Children with autism often have significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. It is important for everyone to know what challenges autistic children face, Carter said, in order for people to better understand the condition.

“It is helpful so when we come into the stores and the shops they can say ‘hi’ and allow them (autistic children) that time they need to say ‘hi’ back and have a conversation,” Carter said. “A lot of times people just don’t understand what they are seeing.”

Davis, Carter and Colburn are asking the city to participate by illuminating businesses and the Niles Amphitheatre in blue on Monday. They are also asking people to wear blue, take pictures and submit them to Autism Speaks for their Light It Up Blue website, lightitupblue.org.

Davis said the majority of Niles businesses have agreed to take part.

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