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Parliament of Canada and 30+ Additional Buildings in Canada 'Go Blue' for Autism On April 2

TORONTO, April 2, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Led by the efforts of Autism Speaks Canada, more than 30 buildings, landmarks, universities and stadiums across Canada will celebrate the 6th annual World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 by illuminating in blue, the official colour of autism awareness. This worldwide campaign, called "Light It Up Blue" begins the evening of April 2 with landmarks worldwide lighting blue. Bill S-206, An Act Respecting World Autism Awareness Day was passed by members of the House of Commons in the fall, making this the first official World Autism Awareness Day to be recognized in Canada.

The following list of buildings or groups will be participating in Light It Up Blue on April 2, and some will continue to participate for all or part of the month of April:

Peace Tower - Parliament of Canada, BC Place, Toronto City Hall, Science World at TELUS World of Science, CN Tower, Vancouver Harbour Centre, Winnipeg City Hall, NAV Control Tower at YVR, London City Hall, Rogers Centre, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Surrey Place Centre, MARS Discovery Centre, University of Toronto- University College, York Region District School Board, blueballoon – Health Services, Western University, TELUS Spark, Maier Centre, Kids Uncomplicated, Centre for Autism, Edmonton City Hall, St. Angela Merici Catholic Elementary, St. Nicholas Catholic School, Equitable Life Headquarters, Union Gas, Conestoga College, Seneca College, University of Waterloo-Pharmacy School, George Webster E.S.

Other events in support of World Autism Awareness Day in Canada include:

  • On March 27, 2013, the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa paid a special tribute to autism by having Mike Lake, a member of parliament and the father of a child with autism, present officials with Autism Speaks puzzle piece pins as they entered the government lobby. Mr. Lake then made a statement in front of the House of Commons about World Autism Awareness Day. In the Senate, Senator Jim Munson also made a statement about the importance of this day. The Peace Tower will be lit blue on April 2.
  • A special Autism Awareness Night on April 4 hosted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Families of children with autism will be treated to a private suite as guests of the Blue Jays as the team faces the Cleveland Indians. The on-air talent at Sportsnet will wear Autism Speaks puzzle piece pins during the broadcast of the game.

This year it is estimated that more than 4,000 structures in over 80 countries will participate in Light It Up Blue. Some participating landmarks include: The Empire State Building in New York, the Aspen Ski Mountain in Colorado, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, and the International Space Station. To find out more about the campaign and how to participate, visit www.lightitupblue.org.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared April 2 World Autism Awareness Day in perpetuity in 2007. The month of April has also been designated as Autism Awareness Month.

In December 2012, the UNGA unanimously passed a new resolution calling on governments to take concrete steps at the local, national and international levels to improve the lives of individuals with autism. The resolution was drafted and tabled by the Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations with the support of Autism Speaks and more than 50 co-sponsors.

About Autism

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders, autism spectrum disorders, caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks Canada and Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks Canada together with Autism Speaks forms North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Fundraising walks for Autism Speaks are held across North America including 6 sites in 2012 in Canada. Funds raised through walks and other events support Canadian autism research and community grants to agencies across Canada that work directly with children, youth and adults with autism. To learn more about Autism Speaks Canada, please visit www.autismspeaks.ca. For more information on the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events, please visit www.walknowforautismspeaks.ca. Information on Autism Speaks U.S can be found at www.autismspeaks.org

CONTACT: Christina Reinhardt Autism Speaks Canada 647-284-4675 christina.reinhardt@autismspeaks.orgSource: Autism Speaks Canada