‘It’s not a disability, it’s a different ability’: AVA Center illuminated blue for World Autism Awareness Day

PMC's AVA Center lit up in blue for World Autism Awareness Day
PMC's AVA Center lit up in blue for World Autism Awareness Day(Pikeville Medical Center)
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 1:40 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The Appalachian Valley Autism Center is called a light for families with special needs children, but tonight it will be illuminated in blue to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day.

Donovan Blackburn, CEO of Pikeville Medical Center, saw a need in the region and founded the AVA Center after his granddaughter was diagnosed with autism.

“This was long overdue for the region,” said Blackburn. “Families like mine end up having to travel outside of the region and the AVA Center lets kids in this area receive the help that they need to live the best life that they can possibly live.”

The AVA Center, which started in a 3,000 square foot building, is now a three-floor, 27,000 square foot building in downtown Pikeville that helps children with autism learn to express themselves.

“The AVA Center brings out the very best in these kids,” said Blackburn. “These are kids with great thoughts. They are loving, kind, and we help bring that out of them so the world can see the bright, shining star that’s inside.”

Blackburn said the kids teach him and the therapists about life as well. He also stressed the importance of being educated about autism.

“It’s not a disability, it’s a different ability,” said Blackburn. “People should educate themselves to what we are, what these kids are, and what they can offer to the world.”

For more information on what the AVA Center can provide or how you can help, visit Pikeville Medical Center’s website.

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