Meet Kristen Immel
Kristen Immel is a Community Animator in Cochrane, Alberta.
With a background in social work, Kristen has worked extensively on the frontline with families in outreach work. Kristen says she is proud of her accomplishments with community development work, “I’ve been able to do a lot of work that I thought before I couldn’t do or didn’t have the experience to do. I’ve been able to figure it out, by growing and learning.”
Prior to being trained as an Animator, Kristen helped organize a variety of events for Mental Health Awareness week in May including a community wide scavenger hunt that was created to help people get outside, learn about the community in a fun way and connect with one another.
Kristen is also one of the community programmers in Cochrane working for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).
Community Development & Wellness
While living in Calgary and working in Cochrane, Kristen has gained insight into the challenges of a smaller community when it comes to mental health accessibility.
“There is certainly a difference in terms of the resources and access certain services, you are more limited in a rural community,” said Kristen.
As a community programmer in Cochrane, Kristen’s role is focused on offering preventative social service programs . Kristen recognizes that people are not going to be able to fully participate in the community if they do not have the support they need. This idea of building resources and helping others feel connected is the central focus of Kristen’s community development work.
Finding Opportunity with the Youth Population
Kristen and her co-worker Mae Kroeis, who is also an Animator in Cochrane, partnered with schools and a variety of youth focused committees in Cochrane. The partnership led to the creation of a survey to better engage the youth populations and provided an opportunity to hear the youth voice and partner with other organizations to offer youth led programming.
Getting Creative in the Covid Era
Since the start of the pandemic, many programs have moved online. Kristen notes that some of these programs have seen higher participation numbers since going virtual and they have been able to offer a wider variety of resources in the community with more people becoming comfortable with online tools such as Zoom. It opens up opportunities that may have not been as accessible before.