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New wellness director focuses on physical, social wellness

Crystal Dawson joined the Wichita Presbyterian Manor community in May as director of wellness. In this capacity, she leads fitness and social activities for our independent living residents.

Crystal got her start in the field while working at the Wellington Recreation Commission. There she learned to teach Silver Sneakers fitness classes, which are geared toward seniors.

Crystal Dawson joined Presbyterian Manor in May as the wellness director for our independent living community. Last year, she her husband, Dust welcomed their first child. Winnie Faye celebrated her first birthday in April.

Now she teaches several different kinds of exercise classes at Presbyterian Manor throughout the week.

Physical health isn’t her only concern, however.

Crystal also provides residents with weekly “brain fitness” packets, which include puzzles and fun facts.

“Everything we do is about social wellness,” Crystal said. “Even group fitness classes are a great time to chat and socialize with others. It’s good for that social well-being, especially after this last year with COVID. It’s great that we’re able to start seeing each other and being together again.”

One of the gatherings Crystal facilitates is a craft group. Residents can bring a project they’re working on and chat while they work with colored pencils, yarn or needle and thread.

“Conversation is good for our mental and physical health,” Crystal said. “Reminiscing and sharing memories is just another way of exercising our minds.”

One of the things Crystal appreciates about her job is the benefits she gets from working with residents.

“They have amazing stories and so much to teach me,” she said. “It’s great to take the time to slow down and listen to what they have to say.”

Crystal spends much of her time outside of work caring for a much younger charge: her first child, Winnie Faye, who is not yet two. Crystal and her husband, Dustin, will celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary this December. They enjoy being outdoors, being around family and friends and attending Royals and Chiefs games. They’ve been Kansas City Chiefs ticketholders for 12 years.

“Of course, watching Winnie grow and learn daily is our newest hobby,” Crystal said.

Crystal has an occupational therapy assistant degree and eventually plans to return to that field. For now, she appreciates having a consistent schedule while she focuses on raising her daughter.

“I still get to help people; it’s just a different skill set,” she said.

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