In addition to empowering our students to find ways of living and eating that make them feel like their happiest, healthiest selves, we provide the coaching, business-building tools, and knowledge to create a successful wellness career. In this series, you’ll hear from IIN students and graduates who share their inspiring stories about how IIN helped them realize the work their hearts were meant to pursue, from health coaching and beyond. These stories have the power to unite us in continuing our mission to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness, one Health Coach at a time.
Rebecca (Becky) Kleive is a wife, mom to a two-year-old daughter, special education teacher with seven years of experience, and IIN student. She’s passionate about education, health, wellness, and especially the intersection between them. She works to improve educational and health outcomes for her students, their families, and greater communities. Becky enjoys her morning smoothies, batch cooking, quick workouts, eating dinner with family, making tunnels out of foam mattress pads with her daughter, and watching movies before bed. You can find her on Instagram @beckykleive and Facebook.
What work were you doing before enrolling in IIN’s Health Coach Training Program?
“Before enrolling in IIN’s Health Coach Training Program, I was (and still am) a full-time self-contained middle-school special education teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) in a large, urban school district. Aside from specialist classes, like gym, art, and social emotional learning (SEL), I teach all academic content areas to students in our classroom, either through (this year’s) distance learning or (in a typical school year) in person.”
How has your IIN education shifted your perspective in your work?
“My IIN education shifted my perspective from initially focusing on showing up for myself and my family regarding health and wellness to how I’m going to show up for my students, their families, and our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities as well. Everyone needs and deserves access to health and wellness practices, regardless of income, gym membership, ability to buy and store workout equipment, proximity to fresh produce, etc.
“It’s our responsibility as current and future Health Coaches to show up in new and innovative ways to address the gap between those who can access health and wellness practices and those who may have limited access due to factors outside their control – but deserve access all the same. We need to do this work honestly, humbly, authentically, and with the sense of urgency our current health crisis situation demands of us.”
What motivates you to approach your work in this new way?
“We’ve been experiencing a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected our BIPOC communities. Before COVID-19, our BIPOC families and communities were disproportionately affected by poorer health outcomes due to systemic racism. That is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable and inaccurate to place blame solely on one’s ‘personal choices’ to rationalize those outcomes.
“Before IIN, I knew these truths; however, I didn’t put myself in a position to effect those outcomes from a health and wellness perspective. Recently, I’ve attempted to change outcomes through my work in education, especially this past school year after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“I joined our school’s Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) and Race and Equity Team to examine our instructional practices, policies, and procedures through an abolitionist teaching lens. Through the book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina L. Love, I am learning why and how to teach students about racial violence and oppression. We must teach community change as an alternative to traditional educational reforms that don’t challenge the underlying reasons why students’ outcomes in general education and special education (especially in the EBD category) tend to be so poor.
“Because of Love’s book, my participation in school leadership teams, and IIN’s program, I’m working to show up differently for my students; I am seeing the parallels between disproportionate health outcomes and disproportionate educational outcomes for BIPOC communities. I realize now this has not been a coincidence in working with students and families for the past seven years. Through using my budding abolitionist teaching framework, my experiences teaching special education in an urban school district, and my training and education through IIN, I hope to ignite change in the communities I work with both in regard to health and wellness as well as education.”
Why do you feel it’s important to challenge the traditional concept of wellness, especially in your line of work?
“It’s important to challenge the traditional concept of wellness because the way it was and still is packaged and marketed to me as a younger, white, upper-middle class, able-bodied woman is rooted in white supremacy, racism, classism, ageism, and ableism, among many other problematic systems of power and privilege. This messaging is all around us – in natural foods stores, farmers’ markets, gyms – all the places where people who look like me are made to feel welcome and have a sense of belonging.
“Health and wellness shouldn’t only be accessible for those of us who have received messages that we ‘belong.’ Health and wellness shouldn’t only be accessible to those of us who can afford to buy clean food and at-home gym equipment or online memberships. Health and wellness shouldn’t only be accessible to those of us who have easy access to grocery stores that stock adequate amounts and varieties of affordable fresh produce. Health and wellness shouldn’t only be accessible to those of us who know where and how to access the latest health and wellness research.
“Health and wellness should be accessible to everyone. It’s not enough to merely acknowledge the lack of accessibility and our own limitations to change it. We have a responsibility as current and future Health Coaches to address these issues in the ways we can. I, for one, am still in the process of figuring out what that’s going to look like for me in the health coaching field.
“What I do know is I’m going to show up. I’m going to show up imperfectly, just like I do with my students, and that may feel uncomfortable. What’s important is, despite my discomfort, I’m going to show up and ask my families and communities what they need because the work is that important. Our clients and our surrounding communities are that important. Everyone deserves to be healthy and well.”
If you could give one piece of advice to your pre-IIN self, what would it be?
“Don’t doubt your ability to help people make sustainable changes in their lives and communities because you don’t know exactly how to do it yet. Show up as you are with authenticity, compassion, openness, creativity, imagination, and determination, and know you will find the next step in your journey.”
When it comes to pursuing a career in health and wellness with an IIN education, the possibilities are endless. The health coaching philosophy can be applied to any professional setting, which provides IIN graduates with incredible opportunities to get innovative in curating the type of career – and future – they’ve always dreamed of. Learn more about what makes our Health Coach Training Program the perfect choice for your health and wellness education by downloading our free Curriculum Guide today.
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