The B.L.U.E. awards which were handed out at Autism Acceptance Day on Thursday.

B.L.U.E. Awards Presented at Lakeshore’s Autism Acceptance Day

April 14, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – It was a day of celebration and learning on Thursday, as Lakeshore Community Services hosted its Autism Acceptance Day event at the Struthers Library Theatre.

The keynote address was delivered by author William Stillman, and Lakeshore presented its annual B.L.U.E. (Believe, Love, Understand, Educate) awards to two worthy recipients to both an organization and an individual that serve the autism community.

This year’s awards went to Icyy Ink, as well as community advocate Tammy Hawk.

“I can sit down and give him instructions once, and I get distracted a lot so I can be in five different places, and I only have to tell him once and he completely gets and it just goes about his work and gets it done,” said Michelle Munksgard of Icyy Ink, which employs a young man with autism. “That’s a great thing for us.”

One of the key messages at the event, which has been held since 2015, was recognizing the intelligence of individuals with autism, and that is certainly on display at Icyy.

“Our minds work very well together,” Munksgard said. “He was learning Adobe InDesign and within 15 minutes he was doing work with it. I taught high school students for three years, and the stuff that he picked up in one day and it took them the whole semester. Just having him be able to do stuff like that has been fantastic for our business.”

Hawk, meanwhile, has been an autism advocate for a number of years and noted that while there are challenges, the joys that come with it are immeasurable.

“We have hard conversations,” Hawk said. “And we make a difference with the children. Believe, I believe we make a difference. L, I love what I do. U for understanding. I do understand. I understand personally and professionally. And E for embrace. Embrace and embrace.”

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