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5 questions with Mim McKenzie

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at 10:36 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at 10:36 p.m.

Mim McKenzie is on a mission to improve the health of Wichitans.

As facilitator of the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita, McKenzie works with health professionals, individuals, businesses, government entities and other groups to promote a healthy lifestyle through physical activity and healthful eating.

“We want people moving and eating better,” McKenzie said. “We have programs and networks to support that.”

The coalition publishes a monthly newsletter that includes health tips and promotes activities and community resources. It holds an annual Working Well Conference to share ideas among attendees.

“I don’t think people realize it, but our community is changing,” McKenzie said. “Our environment is changing, and people are making healthy choices.”

When the coalition started holding meetings in 2004, McKenzie’s job was to recruit members to develop a mission and vision to work to improve the health of the community.

The first conference, held in 2005, drew 50 to 100 attendees. Last year, it attracted about 300.

Members meet every other month to network. A leadership team meets monthly.

“It’s fantastic,” McKenzie said.

The coalition encourages people to eat more healthful foods.

“We just want people … to make the choice not to grab the doughnut but to grab the grapes, make the effort not to grab your soda but to get some water,” she said.

Becoming more active, meanwhile, can come through walking, biking or other forms of activity.

For example, May is bike month. A committee is working to promote biking as transportation and recreation, she said.

McKenzie, 40, also serves as vice president of community development for the Greater Wichita YMCA and splits her time between the two roles.

The YMCA offers after-school programs, a splash program, a job skills preparation program for teens and other outreach opportunities.

McKenzie holds a degree in biology from Friends University. She joined the YMCA in 1997 as director of the middle-school after-school program. Before joining the Y, McKenzie worked in an after-school program at Hamilton Middle School.

McKenzie is married and likes to spend her free time outdoors biking, walking and doing a little gardening. She also likes to hang out with friends and family.

Q. What is your biggest challenge that you find in the promotion of good health?

A. Convincing people that their body is worth it. … There is a purpose to why we are here, and we have to have a healthy body to fulfill that purpose.

Q. What sparked your interest in good health?

A. I have phenomenal parents. They were such a great example to myself and my siblings and still are. … We didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but I would never be able to tell, because we were always fed extremely well and always had things to do.

Q. Mentors have been important in your career. How so?

A. I have had … four (mentors) outside of my parents that were phenomenal. They took the time to give me a lot of advice as I went along, and I’m so grateful for what they took from their own experience and gave to me. I would hope that as we age as professionals that we do the same for (others).

Q. What was some of their best advice?

A. (They asked), “What do you really love, Mim? What do you really love?” They just encouraged me to go forward with that.

Q. What is one thing that not many people may know about you?

A. I’m the youngest of four. I got to see a lot before I ever got to experience anything, so that was a lot of fun.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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