Paint your nails blue for Autism Awareness Month
What started out as a small challenge a few years ago has led to a really amazing online movement as people around the world paint their nails and get tattoos in hopes of raising awareness of autism during the month of April.
Three years ago, a dad named Brian Batey asked his friends if they would paint their fingernails or toenails blue during the month of April, which has been designated as Autism Awareness Month. He collected the pics and displayed them on the Facebook page (Paint 'em Blue for Autism) he established for that purpose, and he got a great response. Every year since, he's issued the challenge and this year is no different.
According to Autism Speaks, around one out of every 68 American kids are on the autism spectrum — so chances are you know someone who is affected. Batey and his son, Nathan, both have Asperger's Syndrome, and his desire to raise awareness and acceptance is really catching on. Last year, he hoped for 100 photos of blue nails, and he got over 300. This year? He's aiming higher, and hopes to receive at least 1,000 submissions.
"I've seen firsthand the difference that research and awareness have made when comparing my early life to my son's," he tells me. "It's why I do this. I'm usually not an 'awareness sort of guy,' but in this case, I can quantify the difference it's made in the last 30-plus years. I'm also forced to see that we aren't done yet."
As a huge fan of nail polish, and also as a mom of a son with Asperger's Syndrome, I was only too eager to participate myself — as I was due for color anyway, I chose Londontown's Reverse the Charges (Londontown USA, $16) to start off my April and Autism Awareness Month.
Image: Monica Beyer
Want to participate?
Paint your toenails or fingernails blue, and snap a photo. Make sure the photo includes your hands or feet only — no faces. And as much as you'd love to paint your dog's nails, they don't accept pet pics (according to their Facebook page, they initially did and it got a little strange, so it's now people only). The challenge lasts throughout the month of April, so you can submit your photos to them all month long. The email address for submissions is firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's such an easy way to help raise awareness, and it's fun, too. You can go as simple as I did with a solid color, or be creative with different shades and designs, like my friend Melissa did.
Image: Melissa Hughes
Any way you do it, it's an amazing way to show your support and help spread the news that it's Autism Awareness Month.