9News | 27 November 2012
KUSA – “Fire Within” is a suicide-prevention program, started by social entrepreneur and student Briana Johnson. She started the program after realizing Gateway High School students were not reaching out for help when they felt stressed.
Alongside fellow classmates, Johnson created a T-shirt that had the phrase “ask me about my list” printed on it.
It was a way to start a conversation about writing lists for reasons to live. If students felt like taking one of those reasons of the list, they had to tell someone why.
“The product we created was a T-shirt called ‘Ask Me About My List,’ and so it’s just a conversation starter, where as if someone were to see that they would say ‘Oh what’s your list’ and the list was the little things you love about life. We went up to all of our classmates and asked them about [their] lists. It was just the little things like ‘Oh, my pet dog’, ‘my milkshake,’ things like that, and that’s when I saw they’re really struggling with trying to be happy on a day-to-day basis. There was a student who told me ‘I needed to leave, I didn’t want to think about this.’ There was things going on that really made them unhappy and that drove me to really keep going with that T-shirt idea and keep going to get people to know there should be those little things you hang on to sustain a happy life,” Johnson said.
Johnson talked about some of the awards she has earned for coming up with the idea.
“The Better Business Bureau and Junior Achievement nominated me for Colorado’s National Philanthropy Day, and I won Outstanding Youth, so I’m very appreciative of that,” Johnson said.
She talked about taking initiative and bringing people together during the Aurora theater shooting.
“When that happened, everything was kind of chaotic, especially with all of my friends. So, it was just important to me to get everyone together and get everyone calmed down and thinking rationally and able to talk about it without going crazy. It was just important to me to take care of them,” Johnson said.
Johnson also explained why giving back to the community is so important.
“Honestly, I see a lot of people my age struggling. Whether it’s with themselves or other issues going on, and I think it’s important for them to know there are people out there for them. If I could show that, that would mean the most to me,” Johnson said.
She talked about the type of message she is trying to extend.
“The message would be to reach out because there is always something you can do, there is always someone you can help. So if you’re passionate about something, find it. Find something to impact others. Go into your school and see what your classmates need. Just ask around,” Johnson said.
She also talked about the “Fire Within” program, and how it impacted her.
“The ‘Fire Within’ was a program that came into my high school in Aurora and got us thinking about social entrepreneurship and how we can help out students with preventing suicide. My role in that would just be me contributing my ideas and using my business skills to really put a focus on what Gateway High School needed,” Johnson said.
Johnson also explained where the list idea came from.
“I didn’t come up with the exact idea, but I did come up with the ‘whole ask me about my list’. The conversation starter,” Johnson said.
She talked further about her personal future aspirations.
“I really just want to make a difference in my community, and the whole United States and really on a global level. I’m studying international affairs because I think it’s important not only for help at home, but on a global level. If I could impact other people’s life in Africa and Europe that would just mean everything to me,” Johnson said.