To the Editor:
Norwalk did not shine the light on Autism on March 31st on our town Green.
On March 24th after three days of telephone calls I received a message back from the First Taxing District regarding the plans for the Gazebo to be lit up for Autism Awareness. The information came to me in a very disturbing and disrespectful manner.
The first call I made to the Mayor of Norwalk’s office was answered by the secretary of the mayor’s office. She informed me that the Mayor and the City of Norwalk have no part in any plans that may be made for the April 2, Light It Up Blue For Autism on March 31st. I was told there is not anything on the City of Norwalk Calendar for this date. I was then told that the First Taxing District would be the appropriate number to call.
Having been to the lighting of the gazebo last year, I was looking for an opportunity to “shine a light on Autism awareness” in our town by spreading the word for any type of gathering the town was planning. Last year, I was part of a very small representation of people, and there was a conflict with a meeting at Town Hall simultaneously to the Light It Up Blue 2015 for STAR budgetary concerns. My intention was to be proactive and bring more people together for our community.
The First Taxing District was very considerate in making more than one attempt to reach me and then informed me that the Taxing District was contacted by someone who wanted to use the green on March 31st. They told me they did not know what the green would be used for and they had no name for the designated person who requested the use of the green. I was told to contact City Hall to see if they could help me. I did not call the mayor’s office again.
I checked The Hour daily and there was no notification for the event that actually did take place on March 31st with a very large number of official legislative people, and town officials. Where were the children and families in the community? How were they to know to come and why weren’t they invited? Who was the gazebo lit up for?
What do you think LIUB is for? To gain recognition for officials? The banner that was held across the many people who gathered there for the photo op did nothing for the spirit in our community. Writing that the officials were quoted to say they know how hard it is for our families, and that they want to give those with Autism a feeling of self-worth and dignity after not posting the event in the town paper or News 12, not posting any banner about it as the town has for many, many other types of events.
I represent a group of families in our community who come together weekly to support one another and to bring joy and friendship to our children and young adults living with autism challenges, mental health challenges and intellectual challenges in their lives. We deserved to be invited to the town green. This was their time not yours to be recognized!
My daughter and I will at the Gazebo on the town green on the actual Autism Awareness date April 2nd at 7 p.m.. We have sent out emails to as many people as we know whose lives are touched by disabilities. We may be joined by some, and we may not. Nevertheless, we will be there, in our blue, with our banner and with our music to take time to show our spirit in this community.
It would be false for me to say I was surprised at this sequence of events leading to our LIUB on the green. I was not! This is the reason why we have a need for LIUB. We need to bring the focus to the communities to celebrate diversity and support one another. This week, many millions of dollars are at risk for our programs for our families that we rely on for their well being. Another Respite Center is closing, budget cuts are impacting our staff and our kids and adults are being hurt. This was the week for the officials to put their energy and effort into reaching out to us and helping to bring about a STOP to this never ending attack on the disability community for the budget in CT.
While a very small number of faces featured on Page 2 of The Hour holding the banner have responded to my pleas for support, most never answered my letters and none came to the two forums we held in Norwalk with our CT Commissioner in an effort to bring about change.
Let’s try to learn from this year’s approach to the April 2 LIUB and make a promise to remember the day is for COMMUNITY and especially for families touched by Autism and related challenges.
Dawn Di Noto