A local tattoo shop is trying to raise awareness for autism this month.
Zombie Ink, operating in Killeen since 2009, is participating with more than 100 other tattoo shops around the world in a program called Ink4Autism.
Shop manager Layton Davenport said that by participating, Zombie Ink will donate a portion of proceeds from all autism-themed tattoos during April to Autism Speaks, a nonprofit advocacy organization.
Last year, Ink4Autism raised more than $2,400 for charity with more than 70 tattoos worldwide, according to the program’s website.
“One of our customers brought this to our attention on Facebook, so we checked it out, and it really sounded like a great thing to do,” Davenport said. “We wanted to help.”
Symbols of autism awareness include the color blue, as well as the image of a puzzle piece. According to autism advocates, the puzzle piece represents the mystery and complexity of autism spectrum disorder, and because every puzzle piece is different in some way, it also represents the diversity of the individuals affected.
“When people come in and get tattoos like this, it shows how very committed they are to these causes and people,” Davenport said. “It’s a powerful way to show that commitment.”
The Ink4Autism fundraiser coincides with World Autism Awareness month. Traci Whitney, field development manager for Autism Speaks-Greater Austin, said more than 7,000 landmarks and buildings, as well as 100,000 homes across the world will be displaying the color blue in support of autism awareness.
“Many, many more people are becoming aware and educated about what autism is,” she said. “We are still fighting stereotypes, and there is still work to do, but efforts at raising awareness have been an enormous success.”