Leading by Example

In 2019, Mayor Kathie Wight received Communities ChooseWell’s Community Wellness Leadership Award for her work as an elected official in the Village of Longview. However, her commitment to wellness started long before she was voted into leadership.

Back in 2012, Kathie and her family started attending free exercise classes hosted by the Longview Arts, Recreation and Community (ARC) Society.

“I like to stay healthy,” says Kathie. “I could use all the help I could get, so going to the exercise classes was important to keep me nimble and moving.”

Michele Geistlinger, chairperson of the ARC society, explains that Kathie’s individual commitment to wellness makes the mayor a great supporter of healthy initiatives in the community.

“Mayor Wight and her entire family were some of the first people who joined our classes. There were four generations of her family participating,” says Michele. “That’s Kathie—in the background, leading by example.”

Kathie has continued her practical, personal approach to promoting wellness since stepping into the role of mayor in 2016. For example, Michele hosted exercise classes in the local park this past summer, but a community member recovering from a stroke was having trouble crossing the park’s uneven ground to the equipment shed where Michele ran the activities.

“Next thing I knew, Kathie quietly got her husband over there and they made an entryway in the fence, right beside the shed, just so people with less mobility would have access,” explains Michele. “There was no big fanfare, she just did it.”

Kathie’s commitment is born out of her personal understanding of the benefits of wellness. “It’s important to support healthy living—being active helps with your physical wellbeing and your mental wellbeing,” she says.

That’s why the mayor has also lent her support to a local walking trail project. She believes the path is a good addition to the community, and hopefully something that will get people not only active, but meeting their neighbours. This summer, Kathie joined community members and the ARC Society in raking resin and laying stones in the new trail along a ridge in their village.

“I appreciate her support on the trail beyond belief,” says Michele. “Kathie just stepped right in. She got out there this summer every day we were working on it.”

As a ChooseWell champion and former council member, Michele emphasizes the value of finding elected officials who believe in the importance of wellness. Particularly in Longview, a village with just over 300 residents and a small tax base, Michele says council support is essential to making health a priority.

Kathie describes herself as both humbled and embarrassed to receive the award, and insists it is a community effort. However, Michele knows Kathie puts her “heart and soul” into Longview.

“I still get goosebumps when I think about Kathie winning this award,” says Michele. “She would never, ever look for any kind of praise herself. This needed to happen.”