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Why Sunderland landmarks including Penshaw Monument and Northern Spire will be lit up gold next week

Sunderland landmarks will be lit up gold next week as the North East celebrates World Autism Acceptance week.

Thursday, 24th March 2022, 3:08 pm

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Landmarks including the Northern Spire Bridge, Penshaw Monument, Keel Square, Market Square, Seaburn Lighthouse, Fulwell Mill and Hylton Castle will all be awash with gold from March 28-April 3 as the campaign by North East Autism Society (NEAS) reaches its fourth year.

Since 2019, NEAS has asked supporters to use the colour gold throughout Autism Acceptance Week, rather than blue which has traditionally been associated with autism, after feedback from the autism community who wanted to move away from campaigning for awareness, and began pushing for acceptance instead.

John Phillipson, CEO at NEAS, said: “Our campaign for Autism Acceptance is now in its fourth year and in that time we’ve made some huge strides. In 2019 we responded to feedback from the autistic community who told us that simply raising awareness wasn’t enough, which is why we changed our focus to acceptance and set about trying to increase understanding and educate the wider public.

Penshaw Monument lit up gold for Autism Acceptance in 2021

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“Our goal remains the same: we believe we can collectively create a better world for everyone, but especially – for this week – our focus is on what we can learn and change for the better, for those of us who are autistic. That positive message is also backed up by our gold theme, which denotes value and worth.”

NEAS was founded by a group of parents in Sunderland 1980 and following the move from awareness to acceptance, the charity has been a leader in the region in how autism is understood and viewed.

The charity will be returning to Herrington Country Park on Friday, April 22, for its annual Walk for Acceptance, which had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 and for the second year in a row will host its Acceptance Matters virtual conference on Thursday, April 28, which includes a line-up of autistic speakers and practitioners.

John added: “In real terms being autistic is not negative or positive, while there will be definite aspects of both throughout life. It’s actually neutral. It just ‘is’. Acceptance is about a movement where who we are – in all fullness – is loved and accepted.”

Northern Spire Bridge lit up gold for Autism Acceptance in 2021

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Fulwell Mill lit up gold for Autism Acceptance in 2021