Jennifer Johnson - 2014 Awardee

English Language Institute

Jennifer Johnston is the mother of a beautiful 2 year old named Isabelle who has Downs Syndrome.  Early on, she discovered that this condition is misunderstood by both the public and medical field, and has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the myths and truths about it. She joined the Downs Syndrome Group of the Ozarks (DSGO) in January of 2012 and helped plan and recruit volunteers for the 2012 and 2013 Step Up for Downs Syndrome event, the DSGO’s major annual fund raiser.  The event includes a family carnival, an awareness walk, and a night with the Springfield Cardinals. 

Jen joined the DSGO board of directors in fall of 2012 and attends monthly meetings. She is also on the New Parent and Medical Outreach Committee that visits families in the hospital, provides emotional support and steers them toward available resources. Her committee work also includes organizing new parent play groups and giving presentations to the medical community about empathic communication strategies when dealing with families with Downs Syndrome. 

Finally, Jennifer spearheads her own awareness campaign by distributing DSGO calendars and posting interesting Downs Syndrome facts and stories on Facebook.  She gets particularly busy during Downs Syndrome Awareness Month every March.  She has been very impactful in improving the lives of people with Downs Syndrome and their families, and she has helped dispel the myths in the community at large. 

For these reasons, Jennifer Johnston is a recipient of the Staff Excellence in Community Service Award.