With glow sticks around their necks, in the form of glasses, on shoes or anywhere they felt fitting, many adults and children from across the island of Tortola, Virgin Islands came together on the evening of April 6th where they took to the streets from Pasea Estate towards Waterfront Drive in support of a worthy cause- the 3rd Annual Light It Up Run/Walk for Autism.
Light It Up Run/Walk for Autism is the brainchild activity and one of many initiatives taken on by a fraternal group called the Vigilant Stars. “Vigilant Stars is a fraternal organization that comes together to raise awareness about different issues in our community and we believe in sisterhood and brotherly love and giving back to our community,” Public Relations Officer, Esther Fraser informed VI Life & Style.
In speaking with Alison Scatliffe, event coordinator and member of Vigilant Stars, she shared more information about the initiative. “We decided to partner with the Autism Centre to raise funds and to spread awareness so one of our events for the month of April is a Light it Up Walk which is just where we partner with the public in raising funds, they come and register, do a walk and then we submit the monies raised to the Autism Centre.”
The event followed a course from Road Town Wholesale Trading Limited (RTW) to the Cyril B Romney Tortola Pier Park where the participants were entertained by the agility and skills of Purple Dragon members. All roads then led back to RTW where light balloons were distributed for a mass release to light up the sky. On the count of three, Rawlston “Tre” William, affected by autism, released his balloon after which all other balloons were released. The balloon took to the night sky leaving viewers in awe of their beauty. Many commented that they looked like twinkling stars which indeed they did. This brought to a close, the end of yet another successful event.
Light It Up Run/Walk was sponsored by Road Town Wholesale Trading Ltd with Kool Kidz, Fiji Water, and Sunquick.
Kudos to Vigilant Stars for their contribution in giving back to the community!
Here’s what participants had to say…
Words of Lorna Dawson, Supervisor, Disability Services, Social Development Department
We are delighted by the overwhelming support shown by the community for the Light It Up Run & Walk organized by Vigilant Stars. We express our sincere thanks for all those who supported the endeavour. Despite circumstances beyond our control which caused us not to be as active with our awareness and educational activities, the support from the community shows that persons are becoming more aware and accepting of persons with disabilities.
Words of Sheliffa Prentice, Participant
The experience was good. We walked to the Pier Park where Purple Dragon did a demonstration which was enjoyable then we walked back up. I supported the walk.
Words of Malik George, Purple Dragon Member
I walked in the event. I wanted to make sure that everybody was good so I walked in the back to make sure everybody in Purple Dragon was keeping up. We did a lovely demonstration to show everyone what we are all about. We do don jitsu ryu, not karate or anything and overall it was a fun experience. We had approximately twenty people from Purple Dragon.
Words of Utia Scatliffe, Participant
I was excited but first of all, I was a bit late. When I got there, they had already started so we picked up the rear. By the time we got to the Pier Park, Purple Dragon was performing which seemed to be quite nice, very energetic young people. I think all in all the walk was pretty good. Quite a good turnout. Everybody seemed very excited and very keen about walking.
It’s good if more people would turn out to support because these are children with special needs and parent and teachers and guardians need to know that the support is there behind them.
DID YOU KNOW?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is complicated disorders associated with brain development. There is no one “one type” of autism. ASD is characterised on a spectrum by social interaction, how much or how little communication, and repetitive behaviors. They can, however, be categorised into two groups being verbal autistic for which the child or adult can receive intervention to help with communication while the non-verbal autistic children or adult uses sign language or speech generating devices to communicate. Individuals with autism are talented in visual skills, music, math, and art. A person with autism doesn’t understand social cues or facial emotions.