Carol Donnelly, CHES
Carol is a mom of four and the president of KC WELLNESS, INC.
How did you come up with the idea for your company? In the early 90s, I worked at the University of Kentucky as a health educator for a high risk obesity treatment program. I was given the opportunity to work on site at the 3M production site where all the Post-it Notes sold in the United States are produced. This was a three-year pilot to provide a worsite wellness program on location. I was the health education specialist (CHES) that designed and provided programs to the employees.
I loved working with people of different ages, education levels, and health status. Being on location with the workforce to provide education was like being part of a big family structure. As the third year of the pilot approached, it was obvious that the company I worked for would not continue to provide expanded worksite based programs.
Because I enjoyed worksite education so much, I quit my job and started KC WELLNESS, INC., (KCW) in 1995 so I could continue to do the work I found so gratifying. The product offered was education services, including a health risk assessment, screening for cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, smoking, and weight. Follow-up education programs are offered to help participants improve lifestyle habits to reduce health risk. I am the perfect example of the practicioner who starts a business to continue doing work that allows me to use my expertise. Learning how to run a business has been my biggest challenge.
How many children do you have and what age groups? I have two children and two step children. They were 16, 15, 13, and 10 when I started KCW. My children are now all independent adults (yeah!) ages 32 to 26.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Be attentive to the small details of your children’s lives that are big details to them. I found myself so preoccupied with my work sometimes that I tuned out of their conversations and will never forget the sad look on the small face that needed my undivided attention. Also, family first: The work will be there when you return.
What has surprised you most about parenting? I was always told parenting is a 24/7 job for life. It is; you never stop being a Mommy. I have also been surprised by the joys of parenting at every stage of my children’s lives. It’s the best and most important job ever!
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? My children followed me around the garden from the time they could walk. I always remember the smell of onions on my 18-month-old Lynne, from her eating onion tops as we worked the garden. One of my favorite pictures of my oldest daughter, Kelly, is of her on her tip toes, smelling a cucumber flower in the garden when she was three. Eating healthy was normal to them because we only had healthy food options in the house and they were very involved in the vegetable gardening process and always had the kitchen chair pulled up to help Mommy with dinner. They had independence to choose the foods they ate because all options in the house were healthy.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? We put music on and danced in the house, walked in the woods or neighborhood daily, and worked in a big garden. I restricted TV time to no more than one hour a day so “exercise” was play. They rode on the back of my bike or rode a bike beside me when I went for a run or rode their bike beside me. Being active was part of our normal family life. When my children were older, they were involved in sports teams so exercise was a normal part of their day. I always brought my shoes to walk while I was waiting for their games to begin. Yes, I was considered “different” by the parents sitting in the stands, but I was able to be with my children and still get my exercise in and provide a role model for them for an active lifestyle.
How do you recharge your batteries? I do yoga several times a week, love to get lost in a good book, listen to music, or work outside to recharge. Getting away from technology to be quiet recharges me.