Our Family Well-Being Project Gets an In-Person, Personal Touch

If you’ve been following Team Family Well-Being's latest blog posts, you know that the PXL is about to move from talking about concepts for family well-being models to testing real, live prototypes. 

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What you don't know is that one of our own PXL team members — Experience Designer Kara Dziobek — is heading to Dallas next week to get those models off the ground...and staying for the summer!

I stole a few minutes to chat with Kara about the story behind her summer-long relocation. Read on for reflections on experiences with Dallas families and models for prototyping, and a sneak-peek of the world inside her map-like mind:  

B: So you’re headed to Dallas for the summer! Tell us a little bit about why you’re relocating for this project.

K: Part of it is my mindset as a researcher and designer, and part of it is doing what felt right in my heart. Knowing what we were about to do, and hearing all of the stories directly from families about which community-based efforts haven’t worked in the past, my gut instinct was that at least one of [our team members] needed to be there on the ground in order to ensure success.

Families can call me if they need me, and instead of saying, “Sure, I can help, but it’ll take me a day to get to you,” I can just say, “I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” And it was comforting for me to imagine that when families ask me, “Where do you live?” I can say, “Oh, right around the corner off of Forest Ave.” instead of saying, "in some distant state up North."

Were those aspects of programs — having someone available after-hours, or someone living locally — things that families had identified as being important to them?

It’s more that consistency was a huge thing for [families], and consistency is what builds trust. The classic example that came up when we spoke with families was a bus of people showing up at an apartment complex and saying, “You guys need a community garden!”

So they get off the bus and spend two days making this beautiful garden by themselves, and then they leave. With no one in the community to carry on that effort, in the end, it’s not sustainable. So part of it, too, is being able to work for a chunk of time directly with families making sure there’s community ownership, in addition to having that consistent presence to build trust over time.

How do you see community ownership playing into the two models you’re going to prototype?

The 15 families that we’re engaging are either coming from the Lake Highlands community, where we’re doing the two programs, or from other areas of Dallas. They are the ones driving the design and implementation of these two programs: defining what they look like, how we’re engaging other families, and which topics will be taught to other families.

We’re facilitators, because after the summer ends, it’s not going to be us moving these programs forward. If we can facilitate connections — among families, community stakeholders, and Children’s Health — then when leaders in the community are looking for smart minds to execute new programs, they know which families they can count on to make it happen. Or when families have the will to execute a new program in the community, they can say, “We can use the connections we’ve made and the skills we’ve gained to make this a reality.”

You’re one of the most experienced Experience Designers at BIF. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom from past projects or experiences about how to facilitate connections?

My mind works like a map. Like, when I’m in conversation with someone and they say they need something, I’m thinking, “Ok, who do I know that can fill that need if it’s not me?” 

In the context of this project, when I’m interviewing families on the phone, I’m like, “Oh, you’re going to the Young Life Camp? There’s another family that’s going to be part of this program that’s also going to that camp — do you know them?” In my mind, they could meet and develop a friendship, or maybe already have — you never know!

You’re a natural networker — a connector! An asset to projects like this one that involve so many different people and organizations. Speaking of people and organizations in Dallas, how have they responded so far to what you’re doing?

Many of the individuals we talk to are very receptive and excited. There was a woman we were talking to about healthy eating [related to the Edu-Shoppe model], and she was like, “This is amazing! Thanks so much for providing this in our community!” But in my mind, we’re just tapping into a small piece of the puzzle.

This is just the beginning and people are excited about the beginning, which makes me really excited for the future.

Is there anything else about this project or your relocation that you’re excited, or even nervous, about?

I’ve been so excited about this project because I’ve been working in Dallas since we did the foundational research around health and wellness. I’ve been working with some of the same families from the beginning until now.

One of the families said to me the other day, “I just want to thank you for always keeping us in mind, and for continuing to reach out to us.” But that’s what we want to do. We want to see change happen and be there to witness it. Even this particular family — they’ve been rock stars since day one and even still, we’ve seen them grow. To be there beside families to witness progress is the most exciting part.

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Kara, thanks for this heartfelt chat! You'll be missed in the BIF office, but we can't wait to experience vicariously the Edu-Shoppe and Your Best You concepts evolve and come to fruition!

Keep following our blog for details on the development of these two prototypes and check out the raw versions of the original six prototypes if you missed them. We'll also share more insights from the people making prototype development possible. 

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