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JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion and the Mississippi State Capitol will “Light it Up Blue” from 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, 2014, until 12 a.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2014, in observance of World Autism Awareness Day. Weather permitting, the Mansion and the Capitol will also be lighted from 7 p.m. April 3 until 12 a.m. April 4.

The Centers for Disease Control report about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. More than 20,000 Mississippians are estimated to have autism.

“Autism impacts many families in this state, and Deborah and I are very pleased to help bring awareness to the issues these families face,” Governor Phil Bryant said. “We will continue working to support children and families with special needs.”

“We need to do whatever we can to shine a light, in this case a blue light, on the issues facing families and individuals living with autism,” First Lady of Mississippi Deborah Bryant said. “Most of us know someone impacted by autism, which tells us just how widespread autism is in our state. We want to help raise awareness and help bring hope to families. Lighting the mansion blue may be a small step, but it means a lot to us and to a lot of Mississippi families.”

Pam Dollar, the director of the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities and the mother of a 22-year-old son with autism, understands the challenges families face while dealing with autism.

“Early diagnosis, education, treatment, insurance and life-long care are issues families think about and struggle with every day,” said Dollar. “It means a great deal to know the First Lady and Governor are helping us bring attention to our challenges, and to our contributions, as families and as Mississippians.”

The Governor’s Mansion and State Capitol join more than 7,000 buildings in 90 countries that have joined in the “Light It Up Blue” effort in prior years. Landmarks that have “gone blue” include the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro and the Arizona and Nevada state capitols.

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