Kara Collier, Direct Support Professional (DSP), was inspired to support youth with special needs because of her own experience with diagnoses of Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia in the 4th grade. “The hardships of school, social life, and home life were debilitating at times,” said Kara. “But the people who were there for me, my teachers, para-educator, and my family, are what inspired me.”
“I love my job at Rainbows because I try my best to give the kids the support I had and share some of the things I had to learn on my own,” said Kara. “I can relate to them more because of my experiences and it has helped me become more empathetic and understanding.”
Kara worked as a nanny for over a year to a sweet toddler diagnosed with Autism. She researched how to be an advocate and a supporter and found Rainbows. The toddler’s parents contacted Rainbows and early intervention therapists helped Kara and the family learn to support him. The toddler is now in daycare learning to socialize with his peers. Before joining Rainbows, Kara also worked at Wichita South High School as a high-incidence para-educator.
Kara is an in-home DSP during the school year and works Camp Woodchuck during the summer. A “normal” workday is not a thing for Kara. With very different clients having very different needs, no day looks the same. Some days everyone is tired and just needs time to reset. So, they play some board games and enjoy each other’s company. On other days everyone can be energetic and ready to take everything that day has to offer.
“I would say my biggest achievement with Rainbows so far is just being the support parents need, and being the person my clients look forward to seeing,” said Kara. “Just being that person to help take some stress away from my clients and their parents is a huge achievement in my book.”
Kara enjoys anything to do with crafting. She makes clothes by sewing and crocheting, along with jewelry, decorations, and big family heirloom blankets. She sews and crochets tote bags, coasters, stuffed animals, fake flowers, keychains, pacifier leashes, and just about anything you can think of.
“I grew up with a big family,” said Kara. “I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers, 2 moms and 2 dads, and a lot of noise. There was rarely a moment of silence in our 2 houses, but I thrived off it. I now live with my boyfriend and our 2 Boston terriers. I can say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I still call my mom and sister at least once a day. We are all so closely knit it’s almost weird, lol. My family has always been my rock and now more than ever I can say I have a big support system.”