by Lisa Tome
The Town of North East is shining its lights on Jacob Meekins and all those with Autism during the month of April.
The lights at town hall have been covered with blue gels to honor Autism Awareness month.
The idea of turning the lights blue was brought to town officials by Jacob's father, North East maintenance supervisor Phil Meekins. Jacob, 12, has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of Autism.
"When we turned the lights blue, I knew people would ask why," said Meekins. He also said that in addition to Jacob, he also has members of his extended family who also have Autism.
"One in 63 boys is Autistic. People have become more aware of it, but it's not enough," said Phil Meekins.
He said awareness is important. "You go out in public and your child (acts different than others) and people just don't understand. People need to be more compassionate and understanding," he said.
He said that the month of April is an ideal time to talk about Autism.
"People need to be part of the solution. Word of mouth spreads faster than anything. My kid is awesome. He is just as good, fun, and beautiful as any other child. People need to teach about Autism at home too," Meekins said.
Meekins said he was not reluctant to ask town officials to support Autism Awareness.
"The town has always been supportive of my family's life situation. They are aware of the challenges we face. The mayor (Robert McKnight) said he is proud to stand with us in this cause," added Meekins.