- Mary Bailey
An Ambassador for Greater Understanding and Change
Jake Edwards is a bona fide force of nature. It’s said that Jake possess “autism super powers.” Believe it! It’s true! At only 14 years old, Jake has already been honored as a National Champion of Change by the White House, presented by Vice President Joseph Biden, for his work as Autism Ambassador with the Montgomery County Police Department's Autism Outreach Program in Maryland.
Jake was also selected to be among those who greeted Pope Francis during The Pontiff’s 2015 visit to the USA. And most recently, Jake received the Governor’s Citation from the State of Maryland, presented by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, for his autism advocacy work through Empowering Autism Caregivers. To top it all off, Jake is also a top-tier, all-around athlete, and includes among his athletic accomplishments two gold medals in the Special Olympics Cycling event.
Jake’s ambassadorship is building bridges between the autism, law enforcement, local and global communities.
His mission is to educate the public in general and law enforcement in particular, about how those with autism perceive, experience, and do life, so that interactions with people will be safe, respectful, and positive. He has been a featured speaker in police trainings, college classes, panel discussions, the Maryland State House, autism events, churches, and live television shows.
Jake is filled with purpose and passion, and is succeeding in life.
But none of this just magically happened, and it never would have happened had it not been for the dedication and resourcefulness of his extraordinary parents who have a few “super powers” of their own; and the network of support within their community through educators, therapists, family, friends, and of course, the exemplary Montgomery County Police Department's Autism Outreach Program.
Notably, Jake’s mom, Jenn, a former TV News Producer, is currently the Executive Director of Upcounty Community Resources, a nonprofit group in Maryland which serves adults with special needs; Founder of Empowering Autism Caregivers; a Disability Rights Advocate and Trainer; Published Author; Contributing Writer to the Organization for Autism Research Newsletter; and Inspirational Blogger through her website The WorldAccordingtoJake.com.
Regarding Jake’s journey, Jenn has shared, “I’m not saying every day is rosy - it’s not by a long-shot, but our family chooses to be miracle minded, celebrate simple milestones, and help others.”
This perspective is a solid foundation on which to build a life of significance, and one that has given Jake his sense of purpose; the confidence and resources to fulfill that purpose; and the dignity and pride that comes from knowing there are things in this life that he alone was born to do. As his mom says, “He’s on track to change the world!”