Kylee Bennett (Kylee.Bennett@parkview.com) serves as one of the two Community Well-Being Managers at Parkview Health. She works alongside Parkview’s Youth Well-being Team, Senior Well-Being Team, and Tobacco-Free Allen County coalition. The Community Well-Being Team also consists of the Parkview Community Greenhouse & Learning Kitchen, the Community Nutrition Team, and the Centers for Healthy Living that are located in Allen and Kosciusko counties.
Describe your organization and role.
I work for Parkview Health as a Community Well-Being Manager. I also provide grant oversight for our larger Community Well-Being Team. Parkview Health is a not-for-profit, community- based health system. We serve Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. Our mission is “To improve your health and inspire your well-being.” I will have been at Parkview for ten years this fall!
What are two projects and/or partnerships that have been impactful in the work you do?
Fit Kids 360- This healthy lifestyle program holds a special place in my heart. As a healthcare team, we recognized there was a gap, regionally, when it came to providing pediatric obesity-related programs for youth and their families. So, we worked with a group out of Michigan to bring this program to Northeast Indiana, with our first cohort beginning in 2019. We have rallied through and are starting to see positive outcomes from the programs. There are three main focus areas: nutrition, activity well-being (sleep/screen-time/activity), and mental health. The program is 8 weeks in length with follow-up sessions to build on the relationships formed. The program is free of charge and families can be referred or opt into the program through self-referral. There are multiple cohorts throughout the year. We also partner with local universities to promote mentorship. Students of all majors have conversations with families enrolled in the course and actively listen to and learn more about their needs. Then, when they go into their careers, they are aware of this program and how to engage with other partners to help those they serve. We also work with many organizations to build out this program. For example, we will work with partners who promote art and dance so children and families can express themselves in many different ways. We tie many existing community services into follow-up sessions so families know about various programs and supports.
Farm to School- I didn’t grow up learning a lot about farming, but my passion for this work came from my grandfather who would always deliver excess food from his harvest to his neighborhood. I brought some farm to school ideas to my school partners and they were all on board! We began to pilot ideas and have since built our Northeast Farm to School Team. We began implementing taste testing with local farms and promoting seasonal, locally grown produce and related education through the Harvest of the Month program. It has been refreshing to see partners come together around a common goal to improve health, community well-being, and the local economy.
What is the most intriguing or interesting part of your role?
The most intriguing and interesting part of my role is having conversations with community members and partners of all ages. Building and maintaining relationships is something that excites me. I love sitting across from someone or a group of people and actively listening to their feedback and needs. Then, we go back to our team and integrate community feedback into the program. Once the program goes live, it is really special to hear someone say, “Wow, you really took what I shared with you, listened, and built that into the program.” Building that sense of trust and showing that you care is instrumental in this work. We all get to build the puzzle together with our individuals pieces and experiences. We may have degrees and the professional experience, but building relationships and learning from with those in the community that are impacted by the work every day opens so many more opportunities for us to grow together.
What is the “why” behind what you do?
It’s the people. Talking, learning, and growing alongside one another keeps me moving forward. I also have such a special place in my heart for young people. Having the opportunity to create a community where everyone can thrive and become the best version of themselves, especially children, is very important. As a mom, I want my kids to live long and healthy lives. I read often in graduate school about parents outliving their children. The last thing I want is to outlive my children. I want to come alongside others to help make a difference in our communities so that my children and the other wonderful children I interact with can be well and live the healthiest life possible.
Is there anything else SNAC members should know?
I would like you all to know that even though we focus our attention in Northeast Indiana, we work to build programs that can be replicated, with relevant changes, to meet community need and interest. We can’t do this alone and we can all come together to work towards a larger goal! Please reach out if you would like to learn more or connect.
One thing I have learned over the years that I would like to share is that you never know what will happen unless you try. The worst anyone can ever tell you is “no.” You can then go back, reassess, make changes, and try again. But, at least give things a try so that you don’t question what could have been!