Youth Spotlight: The secret is out about Anabel Johnson

Sandy Schroeder
Special to the Daily
Anabel Johnson is a graduate of Battle Mountain High School who went on to get her degree from Boston College last spring and who has decided to return to this beloved valley to begin her professional career.
Special to the Daily

Mountain Youth absolutely does not want Anabel Johnson to be its best-kept secret, but her contributions to date (67 days from her hiring as a matter of fact) have been kept secret for too long. In fact, those contributions have been so significant, she has been selected for this month’s Youth Spotlight.

Here, we are going to use the official definition of “youth,” which includes individuals up to 25 years of age. She is a 2020 graduate of Boston College who has decided to return to this beloved valley to begin her professional career. 

One of the biggest criteria for her interview committee, a group of six high school-aged youth, was that the youth engagement coordinator be youngish and relatable. Johnson exudes these qualities and that has led her to 67-plus days of amazing success.

Here is Johnson, by the numbers. Since her official start date on May 15, she has accomplished the following:

7 Valley’s Voice Passion Projects: She has been involved in the development, proposal, implementation, and evaluation of seven projects that are driven by youth and adult-supported. Highlighted projects include ProtectOurValley, a COVID-19 response project for 19- to 25-year-olds; Tu Guia, a student/family academic support system to reduce summer regression caused by COVID-19; and “Screenagers, The Next Chapter,” an interactive family engagement opportunity on how to cope with stress and anxiety. 

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19 + 6 + 12 youth participating in Passion Projects: Each participant helped to develop leadership skills in the youth who direct the projects. That youth leadership ends up impacting the lives of individuals. The 19 youth who are working with English Language Development families are teaching adults how to help their own children, teaching children valuable skills, and their own personal take-away is the pride they feel for being a catalyst for that change. 

Johnson manages their growth and shares it with others. The six is the number of young people who contributed to the development of a new Youth Center in Edwards and the 12 are the youth who serve on the Youth Executive Board of Valley’s Voice. 

64+ art submissions for Heart of the Vail Valley: These submissions were displayed on June 29 to celebrate how art is therapeutic in times of stress and anxiety. From soup (all of the local artists and adult role models who presented at the event) to nuts (the virtual presence and presentation by all-star Mikaela Shiffrin), Johnson facilitated, coordinated, organized, and implemented the four-hour experience. How? She craftily delegated youth to leadership roles and had adults support along the way. Folks, not just anyone can do this; Johnson made this happen. 

10 + 19 families + children who receive support from a Passion Project called Tu Guia: While the project itself is run by youth, it is Johnson who manages all of the behind-the-scenes necessities — scheduling meetings, troubleshooting communication, getting tutors paid, monitoring successes and challenges and so much more. These are families whose children already struggle in school as English Language Development students and who had been at risk of falling behind their peers. By teaching parents and supporting children, their academic careers will be greatly improved. 

$5029.90 into the hands of young people who are working to affect change here in Eagle County.  Each youth who participates in the Passion Projects and submits a timesheet is paid a minimum of 15$ per hour. That adds up and it is Johnson who is doing the adding and the tracking. Youth voice has value and making sure that value is rewarded is part of what Johnson brings to her role. 

91,160 people reached on FaceBook accounts. The stats say that almost 100,000 people were engaged at He(Art) of the Vail Valley’s Youth on that one day. The message was all about the use of art to help cope with difficulties in life, a message not only for youth but for adults, too. Johnson, with her passion for the arts and experience to match, brought this message to people across our county and across the world. 

Cosmic, my friends. Cosmic.

And, Eagle County community, that is just the beginning of her professional career. As a Battle Mountain student, she served on the Youth Leadership Council with Mountain Youth and helped direct change at that time as a member of the board of directors. With her robust experience in theater, organizing events, working with young people, and making community impact, we will all be seeing much, much more of Johnson. Consider her revealed now. 

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