Positively Richmond: Mom on a mission to change the face of autism

Pam Mines enjoys a morning at the park with her son JP.

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Pam Mines wears many hats in her day-to-day life, but they all relate to her proudest role, being a mom.

“I know that God chose me to be this advocate for this community, but I didn’t know it until I had my son JP,” she says.

Thirteen-year-old JP Mines has autism. He is the inspiration behind JP JumPers Foundation, which officially became a nonprofit in 2013.

It offers a camp, giving tree, worship service and many more resources to the autism community.

“Let families know that you guys aren’t the only ones out here,” Perry Mines relays the foundation’s message. “You got people out here fighting for you, supporting you, just being there for you.”

Perry has been with Pam every step of the way.

“Sometimes I have to pull her coattails a little bit, say slow down,” he chuckles. “But I’m real proud to be her husband, just to be a part of what she’s doing.”

One of Pam’s biggest accomplishments took effect in Virginia three years ago; JP’s Law allows people to add codes for intellectual disabilities on their driver’s license or identification card.

“The goal is to improve interaction between the special needs community and law enforcement,” explains Pam. “And we wanted to do this to be proactive not reactive.”

Part of that work is changing the face of what autism is.

“We are out here driving,” Pam says about the autism community. “We have individuals living on their own, we have individuals who are married, who are parents, and so I think that the misconception is that people don’t understand the full potential of those with Autism.”

Pam is now lobbying to take JP’s Law nationwide.

For all of her efforts to bridge the gap between children and adults with special needs and those without, Pam has been named one of Allen & Allen’s Hometown Heroes for 2017.

She and 24 others will be recognized for their community service at several events coming up:

— July 27, Redskins Training Camp in Richmond, 9:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
— July 28, Fridays After Five Concert Series in Charlottesville, 5:30 p.m.
–July 29, Redskins Training Camp in Richmond, 9:15 a.m.
–August 8, Flying Squirrels Baseball Game in Richmond, 7 p.m.

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