Autism Speaks U Makes It To Campus – The Highlander

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Michael Gombita, Reporter

Members of Autism Speaks U, a university-wide organization, are looking forward to making an impact for people who have autism.

   Students Nicolina Davidson,speech language-pathology major, Alexis Membrino, physician’s assistant major, Brianna Membrino, occupational therapy major and Emily Power, nursing major, decided to bring this club to campus to raise money for research and awareness about autism.

   The club will raise money by means of fundraisers and activities.   “All of the money raised will go towards the Autism Speaks organization,” said Davidson.

   The students came up with the idea after they decided to start a club and the topic of autism always seemed to arise whenever the four got together.

   “We were just hanging out in our dorm and Nicolina brought up the interest of starting a club,” said Power. “She saw it on the Autism Awareness website, and saw the club advertised. We also saw that surrounding colleges such as Marywood and Wilkes had the club on their campus. So we were all in for helping out with the club, and the rest is history.”

   The four looked around campus to see who would be interested in serving as advisor.  They asked Dr. Lori Charney, assistant professor of occupational therapy.

   “I was very pleased that they have asked me to be an advisor,” said Charney, “This is my first year here at Misericordia University.”

   Charney has participated in fundraisers for autism and Autism Speaks, and she was interested in raising money for autism in the public school where she previously worked, but she did not reach her targeted number of fundraisers.

   “I was bummed out for not being able to do some of the fundraisers back at the public school,” said  Charney. “So when the group approached me to be able to help them with the club, I was right on board wanting to help.”

   April is autism awareness month when a special campaign, “Light It Up Blue” happens across the world.

   One notable event is the display of blue lights around the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower.

   The Autism Speaks U club has planned events that enable everyone on campus to participate.

   “We’re going to have a day where everyone will wear blue,” said Powers.

   “We will also be selling blue t-shirts which all the money that is made goes to Autism Awareness but also to make sure that if no one has a blue shirt, they are able to get a blue shirt to wear.”