Karen Ekdahl, Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center, Bellingham, Washington
Working with children can be very stressful, and the demands on staff just seem to grow.
Offering some creative (and some extremely low-cost) health and wellness activities for teachers so they feel appreciated and cared for.
How They Did It
Bellingham is a health-conscious community, and many of the staff at the Learning Center take pains to live healthy, active lives. Karen continually tries to come up with activities to supplement what her staff are already doing, and to offer encouragement in ways both large and small.
One small way that Karen offers encouragement is through the Waiting Wall. The wall is situated along the hallway outside of the one and only bathroom, where staff often line up to wait their turn. Karen started posting health and wellness information and exercises that staff members can do on the spot—wall sits, breathing exercises, wall push-ups, standing stretches, etc. Updating the wall can be as simple as printing a page found online. It costs nothing, and it allows Karen to occasionally splurge on her teachers.
Karen has also planned morale-building and stress-busting activities like the day staff members spent painting at an art studio. The Learning Center also held a special day during last year’s Teacher Appreciation Week when the staff room was turned into a spa with special lighting, music, and a trained massage therapist who gave staff individual massages throughout the day.
Teachers know that Karen is doing her best for them, so they show up to work ready to share their time and talents with the children.
On Karen’s Wish List
More space that can be used to incorporate some gym equipment into the Learning Center.