Job Title: Co-founder, Executive Director and Psychologist, Walk-In Counselling Society of Edmonton
Why She’s Top 40: She’s giving Edmontonians quick and affordable access to mental-health services – and she’s ensuring generations of kids have a place to play.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “I love how Edmontonians will step up to the plate when you ask them for help. Edmontonians are so willing to give. They are so helpful, full of great advice, full of tremendous stories and amazing knowledge.”
When asked if she’s always been a go-getter, Kim Knull laughs and modestly says, “Some might say yes.” We’d have to agree – no matter the project, she’s the first to volunteer.
When Knull realized her two daughters, ages four and six, didn’t have a playground at their school, she took matters into her own hands and founded the Rutherford Playground Committee in May 2012. Construction will begin in the spring, a quick pace for a playground build – they often take up to seven years from start to finish. The City streamlined the playground building process by creating preset templates in April 2013, due, in part, to Knull’s lobbying efforts.
She says it “took a village” to raise $150,000 in six months. A playground is important, says Knull, because it builds community spirit, not just for one street, but for a whole neighbourhood.
Working to build a playground proved to be a great foundation for her other passion project – the creation of the Walk-In Counselling Society of Edmonton (WISCOE).
The need for WISCOE became apparent in October 2012 when the Support Network, where Knull worked at the time as a contractor, closed its walk-in counselling program due to lack of funding. Knull and her fellow counsellors looked around the room and agreed that something had to be done to make sure the service continued. “I was the only one putting up my hand,” says Knull.
WISCOE officially opened June 3, 2013. Unlike traditional mental-health services, which involve going to a hospital, waiting weeks to see a counsellor or paying $180 for a private psychologist, WISCOE offers walk-in sessions on a sliding scale, based on the client’s income. “We provide a service where people can come in and get help right away before the problem gets too serious,” says Knull.
WISCOE is the only Edmonton clinic to provide single-session therapy. Knull also provides training in the single-session model to therapists working for City of Edmonton Short Term Counselling services.
Patients are very appreciative “and that makes it all worth it,” says Knull. “When you feel like you’ve helped, you feel really happy and you feel satisfied with your job and you want to keep doing it.”