As Jay Wilson stood proudly next to his parents while they received recognition awards, he could be seen with two QR codes, one on his shirt and another on his shoe.
The codes can be scanned, which would pull up emergency contact numbers and his information if Wilson, who is low-verbal and has autism, ever becomes lost or disoriented and needs help.
The codes are just one of the products from the nonprofit organization, “If I Need Help”, that his parents, Erin and Bruce, founded in 2014. The organization received recognition awards from the city of Santa Clarita, Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger at City Hall on Friday.
Wilk and Barger were not in attendance, but both sent representatives to deliver the recognitions. Mayor Laurene Weste said the city is extremely proud of the work that “If I Need Help” is doing.
“We are standing together and this is what the community does,” said Weste. “when we see a problem, and we know that it needs to be solved that people just step up and say, ‘I can help’…and they’re enlisting the rest of the community to help with something that would be terrifying, if a member of your family didn’t know where they were, and how to reach them, and I know, I can’t think of anything worse.”
The organization has more than 26,000 members nationwide and has trained more than 1,400 California Highway Patrol officers in identifying autism and de-escalating situations when officers come into contact with individuals who have it.
Bruce Wilson said that although the recognition was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one, that his organization’s efforts were never about getting awards.
“Well, it’s surprising because we don’t think about recognition, we just try to help people. You know, with wearable ID for people with communication issues that could get lost and could be in danger. And so, we’re really focused on that,” said Wilson.
Wilson said he was grateful for the award and that it’ll inspire them to keep up the work if they’re having a tough day.
The event was held as part of the city of Santa Clarita’s Mental Health Awareness Month. Stephanie English, a representative for Barger, said she was thrilled to be commemorating the Wilsons as part of the awareness.
“The reason I believe that we’ve made so much progress in this arena is because of people like you,” said English. “It takes the folks that have the passion and the drive and the experience, which you have all of those things, to make a difference.”
For more information about “If I need Help” visit bit.ly/3wd36Hl.