Provider Health Spotlight on Karen Ekdahl

November 08, 2016

Staff turbo kick classSpotlight

Karen Ekdahl, Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center, Bellingham, Washington

The Problem

Working with children can be very stressful, and the demands on staff just seem to grow.

The Solution

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.

The Results

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.


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Topics: Workforce, Health & Safety

Krista Scott

Written by Krista Scott

Krista Scott is an experienced child health expert working at the forefront of policy, advocacy and equity as the current Senior Director for Child Care Health Policy at CCAoA. For over 15 years, Ms. Scott has worked in public health and education, primarily in non-profit and government agencies, where she has honed her expertise in early childhood health, mental health, special education, program development and support and in using policies to strengthen practice. Ms. Scott has her bachelor’s degree in political science and her Master of Social Work with a focus on management and policy.