PEOPLE magazine's announcement that Judge Jimmie Edwards is one of its 2011 Heroes of the Year notes that a characteristic Judge Edwards shares with the other five winners is that he ' and they ' never lets daunting odds stand in the way.
"Daunting odds" is an understatement of the challenges facing many of the people Judge Edwards sees from his St. Louis Juvenile Court bench every day. Almost every measure is stacked against these young people. Homes, neighborhoods, schools; families, peers, authorities ' none of these is likely to bring success into their lives.
Judge Edwards knew that, and did something about it anyway.
Along with a group of community partners, the judge opened Innovative Concept Academy, 1927 Cass Avenue, in 2009. The Academy offers the direction, discipline, skills, education, and recreation that many of the City's young people would find nowhere else. The experience gives them a chance ' maybe, the chance ' to change their lives, graduate, work, and raise good families.
Judge Edwards calls himself ordinary. Were that so, life in St. Louis would be very different and very much better.
I congratulate PEOPLE's hero, and ours.