Kara Johnson

Kara Johnson

She practices what she preaches.

“The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” constitute the foundational text of Raja (royal) Yoga. The teachings, which lay out a path for achieving physical, mental and emotional harmony, offer practices for daily life, among them, ahimsa. Ahimsa translates from the Sanskrit as non-violence or not causing pain, first to oneself, then towards others. And “not causing pain” means more than simply avoiding hurtful actions. Words and thoughts can cause pain too and should be tempered if they would inflict hurt.

The San Miguel Resource Center’s education specialist Kara Johnson is also a Kundalini-trained yoga teacher who practices ahimsa every day of her life – and is being honored for her success. For her impactful and innovative leadership in preventing harm through education towards women and girls, the  Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (RMPBS) recently awarded Kara with the “Be More Award.” Kara, one of three women in the state of Colorado to receive the honor, will be officially recognized at the  RMPBS Newsmakers Luncheon in Denver on April 24, 2013.

“Kara’s tireless efforts to provide prevention education on bullying, dating violence, appropriate touch, media literacy and assertiveness have had a tremendous impact on our schools,” said Sara Kimble, Telluride High School counselor. “She has an amazing gift to work with students of all age levels and provide them with the tools necessary to effectively stop interpersonal violence. There has been a positive shift in our school culture, as both students and staff feel better equipped to handle difficult situations.”

The San Miguel Resource Center is the only nonprofit dealing with the twin horrors of domestic violence and sexual assault in San Miguel County and the West End of Montrose County. Kara goes into every school in the service area to provide violence prevention education for students from Telluride to Paradox. Her everyday challenge is to stop the problem before it starts and give young people the tools they need to have lives free from interpersonal violence (or to practice ahimsa).

Her leadership in areas related to improvement in the well-being of women and girls has included:

• More kids reporting bullying
• More kids acting as empowered bystanders
• An increase in girls participating in class and extracurricular activities due to assertiveness training
• Improvements to school procedures and protocols involving all types of bullying
• More kids and adults empowered to report child abuse or molestation, therefore accessing important support services
• Classes to empower parents and school personnel
• Increased awareness of rape prevention for girls in high school and entering college
• Increased awareness of media literacy for women as it relates to such topics as body image, sexuality and relationships
• An overarching cultural change in parts of the service area that were previously more accepting of various types of violence…

“Kara has gone well above the call of duty on many occasions,” said Jon Orris, executive director/principal of the Paradox Valley School. “Not only has she provided extensive prevention education to our school as a whole, but she has worked individually with children who are facing difficult problems and helped them to access the support they need. The kids trust her, the parents appreciate her, and the teachers see her as an ally in addressing challenging issues.”

Kara Johnson was born and raised in rural Dubois, Wyoming. Since graduating with a BA in Sociology from Colorado Mesa University, she has worked in the non-profit world on election campaigns, environmental causes, and youth empowerment. She believes her calling is to devote her professional life to helping young women and children in rural areas gain perspective and education to help them realize their full potential.

The San Miguel Resource Center has been serving victims of sexual assault and domestic violence for 20 years. In an effort to break the cycle of violence, the prevention education program created in 2001 aimed to give students the tools needed to challenge interpersonal violence. Kara is responsible for significantly expanding the program from 180 prevention education classes per year to an estimated 400 classes in 2013. She has also taken a very holistic approach by working to equip not only students with the right tools to address interpersonal violence, but parents, teachers and administrators as well.

In honor of her well-deserved award, the Telluride Foundation is sponsoring a table at the RMPBS Newsmakers Luncheon.

To learn more about Kara Johnson and her work for the SMRC, click the “play” button and listen to our chat.


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