Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown and his staff were enthusiastic about increasing public awareness of people with autism – and providing students at The Graham Academy with a special day to remember. Two students were named honorary firefighters Friday, April 23, as part of Autism Awareness Day in the city. Another student, remained at City Hall where he was honorary mayor. The mayor presented the students with proclamations and sashes imprinted with their job titles for the day.

The City of Wilkes-Barre partnered with The Graham Academy, King’s College and Wilkes University for its inaugural Light It Up Blue campaign. City Hall and the three fire stations planned to turn on blue lights Friday night, and Public Square was decorated with blue ribbons.

Graham Academy students designed autism awareness-inspired yard signs, which are being sold for $20 at local businesses, along with blue ribbons. The school will donate proceeds to the special needs playground that the city is planning for Kirby Park.

“We have to remember that the people that are here today and the other people at schools like Graham Academy, they’re part of our citizens, they’re part of our population and they have to have the same needs fulfilled that other people do in the city. And we’re here for that,” Brown said.

All three Graham Academy students will be graduating this year, according to Bob Steinberger, building administrator. “It’s our job to help them be the most exceptional individual that they can to pursue whatever goals they can attain and they want to attain,” Steinberger said. “That’s basically what we do. It’s a privilege to work with them.”

The news story was originally published by The Times Leader.