ABOVE: Jeremy Kirk, assistant professor of music, welcomes the audience to the inaugural Light It Up Blue concert. (Madison Stumbough/Staff photographer)

By Madison Stumbough

Staff reporter

The first-ever Light It Up Blue concert to promote autism awareness was held in Messenger Recital Hall on April 2. Assistant Professor of Music, Jeremy Kirk, and his wife, Nikki Kirk, director of Journey Kids Choir, collaborated with Southwestern students and staff as well as community members to develop this event.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and the concert was developed in hopes to raise awareness in a unique and inspirational way.

The event included Mosaic, an advocacy agency for individuals with disabilities, The Journey Kids Choir, and Southwestern College students, along with other community members.

ABOVE: Members of Journey Kids Choir, Eliza Ward, Lillian Medley, Craig Layton and Haylea Sampson, use sign language while singing a song about the struggles of an individual with nonverbal autism. (Madison Stumbough/Staff photographer)

Jeremy Kirk directed the Southwestern College Percussion Group in an original piece titled “Process” that takes the listener through the experience of an individual with autism processing everyday life.

To end the night, Kaela Massey, music theatre sophomore, sang “This Is Me” from the 2017 film “The Greatest Showman” that celebrates the power of individuality.

The success of the inaugural Light It Up Blue concert has already sparked dreams of the possibilities of next years concert and the Kirks are excited to see how this event grows in years to come.

Madison Stumbough is a junior majoring in liberal arts and sciences. You may email her at madison.stumbough@sckans.edu.