Career Connections

Shannon Kooima

Major: Kinesiology and Health

Company/Organization: Edgewater - A Wesley Life Active Living Community
Company/Organization website:
Title: Wellness Intern
Destination: West Des Moines, IA
Timeframe: Spring 2017

Advisor/Coordinator Email:

I was responsible for...
I was responsible for planning, implementing , and evaluating a balance training program using the Hur iBalance machine - Planning a spring fling dance - Giving a presentation on health benefits of swimming for seniors - Teaching a workshop on making mason jar salads as part of an employee wellness promotion - Conducting senior fitness assessments - Teaching weekly strength and balance classes, both in a gym and in the heated saltwater pool - Create marketing materials for wellness programs - Lead fitness center orientations for new members and employees

I accomplished...
The balance training program I designed was so successful that I ended up adding a second session to accommodate new people who wanted to participate. Falls are a major risk in the older adult population and all of the people who participated saw improvement. Some residents were even able to move themselves out of the "fall risk" category. The most gratifying part was hearing them explain how the program improved some aspect of their daily life - they were in less pain, they were walking better, they were more confident. One resident went on vacation after the program and was able to walk on the beach without fear of falling for the first time in decades. This program was not only beneficial for the participants, it was really fun for me. I got to work with some equipment I'd never used before and more importantly, work one on one with the residents and get to know them on a personal level.

I learned...
This internship has been incredibly valuable to me in many ways: - I learned the value of working for an organization that cares. People here are not numbers. Wesley Life cares about its employees, the residents, and even family members. Employees are encouraged to get up from their desk and go for walks or take breaks. Employees went above and beyond in the interest of preserving the dignity of a residents who were unable to care for themselves. The CEO of the company send around thank yous to all the employees just for showing up and living out the mission of the organization. The importance of the organizational culture cannot be understated. - I learned that I want to find a career working with older adults. I knew I liked the population to begin with but was blown away by just how much I liked it. - I learned that commuting is not for me. I drove an hour to and from this job and it was way too much time in a car.

Advice for others...
Oftentimes, residents just want someone to talk to. To easily maintain a conversation with any older adult, be well-versed on these three things: - The weather - The news - The local sports team These will get you started and from there on, learn to listen. They'll take it from there. You'll find that many of the residents may not be interested in whatever program you have to offer, but once you get to know them, they will participate so as not to disappoint you.

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