MIKE Program Mentors Guide Youth to Healthy Lifestyles
When MIKE Program Mentor Richard Burton showed up in a wheelchair last month, participants in his ninth grade team were concerned for his well-being. They asked Richard what happened and then proceeded to pray for him at the beginning of class. Richard mentors at De La Salle North Catholic High School, a faith-based, college preparatory school which serves low income youth. Each class period begins with a prayer.
“My injuries were mentioned and for that I am grateful,” said Richard, who had wrenched his back. As a nursing student at Linfield College School of Nursing, Richard arrives with the health of his team in mind, so when they reciprocated, he realized his impact was far greater than he could have imagined.
Mentoring provides Richard Burton with the opportunity to encourage young people toward healthier lifestyles. He arrives at De La Salle North Catholic High School once a week to share his knowledge, skills and values for healthy behaviors. “Becoming a nurse has changed my way of looking at health and I hope to pass on the importance of being healthy and the skills to do so,” said Richard. “I hope to encourage young people to think more about the consequences of their lifestyle choices at a younger age.”
Richard looks to instill the importance of improving behaviors in nutrition, exercise and other health factors with young people because he deals with the consequences of chronic diseases in his training and work. The majority of cases of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are potentially preventable, and Richard says he wants people to be aware of the effects of their actions.
“I decided to volunteer as a mentor because I wanted to be a part of the educational community that helps young people value healthy lifestyle choices,” said Richard. “I want to empower these young people with knowledge and values that I didn’t have as a young person. As a nursing student, I have a specialized knowledge and skill set that I would like to pass on to open new possibilities in healthcare and in healthy lifestyle choices.”
Kidney Anatomy Takes Center Stage
Equipping teens to understand the functions of their kidneys can be daunting. That’s why MIKE Program uses a combination of hands-on activities, discussions and a few unique visual aids to pique the teens’ interest.
When Kim Whitney, Program Coordinator at MIKE Program, arrived at Rosemary Anderson High School with a four-foot wooden kidney, the teens responded with interest and questions. Kim guided the class through a discussion on the functions of human kidneys as she pointed out the main features of the vital organ.
Kim also serves as one of four mentors who mentor youth each week at Rosemary Anderson High School. The North Portland school is an alternative high school serving high needs youth. Partnering with MIKE Program, the school is implementing MIKE Program’s comprehensive health curriculum as a core subject for the more academically prepared youth at the school this year.
The emphasis on kidneys helps the teens understand how their choices and behaviors affect their health throughout their lives. By guiding them toward healthier decisions, MIKE Program aims to empower them to avoid lifestyles that lead to the main chronic conditions causing kidney failure: obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Kim and the other mentors, Charles Amos, Marissa Polowitz and Kelly Teav, find that the teens respond enthusiastically to hands-on activities which reinforce other information. They also share healthy snacks at the beginning of class, introducing foods that offer better nutrition and establishing new habits. It’s a hands-on activity the teens look forward to each week.
MIKE Program Poster Presented at the Annual SOPHE Meeting
Some of the outcomes of the partnership between MIKE Program and Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology extend far beyond the data measuring the program’s impact on youth. As an example, the university’s poster presentation showcasing MIKE Program data was accepted by the Society of Public Health Education (SOPHE) for their annual meeting in October. Now that’s a positive outcome!
Directed by Susan Li, PhD, Professor at Pacific University’s School of Professional Psychology, a team of doctoral candidates are researching the effect of MIKE Program on youth. The SOPHE presentation was the fourth scientific stage to showcase their findings in the 2011-2012 academic year.
Laura Pagenstecher presented the poster, which featured findings across five cohorts, at the annual SOPHE meeting. According to the research findings, “MIKE Program showed consistent positive effects on health self-efficacy and knowledge of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The Pacific University team concluded, “MIKE Program’s emphasis on participatory learning and youth leadership as community health ambassadors may be a critical component in creating both personal and school-wide changes in health behaviors.”
MIKE Program empowers youth to be health leaders--ambassadors of healthy kidneys--through education, mentorship and community outreach. It is a mission that guides staff, volunteers and youth to improve the health of young people and their communities. The outreach happens in the classroom and throughout the community.
Supporters of MIKE Program attended An Autumn Evening on September 14, 2012, to highlight the community commitment to improving the health of teens. The event is MIKE Program's only fund raising event of the year. While a list of supporters and sponsors are attached to every fund raising event, a large variety of supporters from the community attended the event to encourage the youth that their health matters.Six teens from De La Salle North Catholic High School attended the event, along with their health teacher, David Mickola.
MIKE Program Sponsors included Fred Meyer, DaVita, Geffen Mesher and Company, Eli Lilly, United Healthcare, SIGMA Investment Management, Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Legacy Health and the Oregon Health Authority's Office of Equity and Inclusion. Media sponsors included The Skanner News, which featured MIKE Program in May; along with KBNP The Money Station, OSI Photography, Swoon Imagery and Vo Minh McBurney Videography. Contributing sponsors included Roy Jay Enterprises; PrintSync; One Up NW; Bullivante, Houser, Bailey and Providence Health and Services.
Their support will help MIKE Program mentor more youth in the coming year. As Nicolas, one of the attending youth at the event stated in a video premiered that evening, "MIKE Program changed my life."
MIKE Program Recognizes 136
MIKE Program recognized 136 youth for completing their health empowerment experience this June. In ceremonies at De La Salle North Catholic High School and Rosemary Anderson High School in inner north Portland and Miller Education Center West in rural Hillsboro, Oregon, MIKE Program mentors finished up the year by handing out certificates and congratulations while celebrating with sincere appreciation for the youths’ contributions throughout the year.
The teens recently completed their Health Leadership Projects, extending their experiences and knowledge to more than 700 other young people and adults. At De La Salle North Catholic High School, leadership projects included presentations to elementary and middle school students, creating a health blog and other social media outlets and garnering 180 signatures petitioning to install a healthy snacks vending machine.
At Rosemary Anderson High School the youths hosted a half-day Kidney Conference. They facilitated a panel of people being treated for kidney failure so that everyone in their school could have a first-hand look at what they had learned. They invited both people who were undergoing dialysis and kidney transplant recipients, featured a poster gallery of their own messages and served a healthy lunch to the entire school and staff after obtaining a food handlers license. Many of the youth wore their MIKE Program t-shirts, designed by several of the Rosemary Anderson High School teens, to reinforce the program’s message of healthy kidneys. The event attracted local media coverage from The Skanner News.
In MIKE Program’s afterschool program at Miller Education Center West in Hillsboro, participants learned to take blood pressure and then reached out to the middle school, offering a blood pressure clinic, teaching the middle school children about the important role blood pressure plays and teaching how to take blood pressure!
To celebrate the successful completion of their experience, they ended with a final round of scrapbooking to capture special moments throughout the year and view a slideshow of their blood pressure clinic for middle school students. One young Miller Education Center West youth will keep the hoodie he designed in MIKE Program as a special memento to recognize his graduation from high school.
Youth Leadership Project Publishes a Health Blog
Greg Kluthe could have kept busy as a research assistant at Portland State University and a part-time faculty member at Portland Community College. Yet, he also spent this last year with MIKE Program to mentor a half dozen youth. Kluthe worked as a MIKE Program mentor at De La Salle North Catholic High School to impact the health of the next generation.
“I chose MIKE Program to play a role as a mentor and change people’s minds at a critical time,” Kluthe explained. He added, “I want to educate them about the science behind their health with a way to reach out to their community, as well.”
As part of MIKE Program’s Health Leadership Project, Kluthe guided his freshman group to understand the functions of their kidneys, learn how lifestyle choices affect their health and support their work to share what they learned with others. The teens chose to publish a health blog to reach as many individuals as possible and allow each of them an opportunity to contribute and share information and resources they discovered participating in MIKE Program.
The “De La Salle North Health Blog” aims to help people be healthy one post at a time. Visit it at: http://delasallehealth.blogspot.com/.
Youth Serve a Healthy Lunch with a Healthy Message
Students at Rosemary Anderson High School may have dropped out of traditional schools, or are homeless, neglected and unsupported. With a comprehensive support system, Rosemary Anderson High School achieves success in the lives of their students with a 90 percent graduation rate for those youth who actively are enrolled in their programming.
MIKE Program is part of that success; our mentors arrive each week with a goal of building a stable, positive relationship with the teens while focusing on their health. The curriculum directly impacts the lives of the youth by empowering them to realize how they can determine and change their future health by the decisions they make now.
This year, the youth in MIKE Program chose to coordinate their efforts for their Health Leadership Project by hosting a half-day Kidney Conference complete with a panel, a gallery of posters denoting healthy messages and a healthy lunch for the entire school and staff.
Wearing the t-shirts designed by fellow classmates, they distributed t-shirts to other students, extending their messages about MIKE Program and healthy kidneys beyond the classroom.
The event attracted the attention of the local media. The Skanner published an article and photos featuring MIKE Program youth and President Cheryl Neal, MD. Click on the link provided below and be sure to check out our blog and Flickr pages for photos.
MIKE Program Youth “Make a Kidney”
MIKE Program’s Cheryl Neal, MD, tested dozens of makeshift kidneys made by freshmen at De La Salle North Catholic High School recently. The project is part of MIKE Program’s curriculum that matches teams to compete for the best kidney made from everyday household products. The lesson helps teens understand how kidneys work.
In the weeks following the activity, teens visited several Portland dialysis clinics to talk directly with individuals undergoing dialysis. The teens are accompanied by their mentors and MIKE Program staff. The visit is one of the highlights of activities for the youth and dialysis patients alike. The youth listen to people of all ages and backgrounds discuss how they live with dialysis due to kidney failure. The youth respond with a greater commitment to protecting their kidneys by eating healthier foods, drinking more water and exercising.
Pacific University Finds MIKE Program Impacts the Lives of Teens
MIKE Program is changing the way young people value nutrition in their lives. Susan Li of Pacific University told a filled room at MIKE Program’s annual “Our Community Gathering” event on March 11 that her findings point to clear evidence that young people gain skills and confidence to make healthy choices after participating in the program.
Li, who directs the Child and Adolescent Track of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at Pacific University, is analyzing the impact MIKE Program has on youth and their health. She and her students quantify results based on MIKE Program’s surveys to determine what works in changing behaviors.
The project utilizes youth surveys to measure improvement based on participation in MIKE Program. Li’s project focuses on health self-efficacy, personal goals and knowledge. According to Li, the results show significant improvement in the students’ ability to eat a better well-balanced diet, tell which foods were healthy and decide which foods were good after completing MIKE Program.
MIKE Program began partnering with Li and her students last spring. Li says the partnership is focused on getting the word out about its impact. The efforts will monitor MIKE Program’s effectiveness, track how the curriculum impacts youth, measure changes in health behaviors and promote evidence of the curriculum’s effectiveness.
“We’ve found that MIKE Program is really meeting targets for knowledge change,” said Li. She listed kidney anatomy, risk factors, nutrition and exercise as important lessons the youth are learning. “They’re changing in the area of nutrition self-efficacy and that’s probably because MIKE Program is so service learning, hands-on and empowering in terms of ‘let’s go there, let’s figure this out, let’s look at labels and let’s try this out.’ So, they’re really feeling like they can do that piece.”
Li’s work and that of one of her doctoral students, Nichole Sage, has been accepted for peer-reviewed poster presentations at several regional conferences. Sage presented the first in a series of posters at the Oregon Public Health Association Conference last October. She will present another poster at the Western Psychological Association Annual Convention in San Francisco, Calif., in April, while Li will present a poster at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association Annual Convention in Reno, Nev. Laura Pagenstecher, another student of Li’s, also helps with the data crunching for the findings.
Funding from two Oregon foundations, Collins Medical Trust and the Juan Young Trust, helps support the partnership. The Collins Medical Trust directly funds the partnership with Pacific University to evaluate and further develop MIKE Program projects and activities. Juan Young Trust’s funding also supports the partnership, in addition to helping MIKE Program expand its reach at the Miller Education Center-West in Hillsboro.
Li says she’s finding that MIKE Program is impacting more than the youth. “I’m actually supervising one of the mentor’s working at the Miller Education Center site,” said Li. “Her health behaviors are changing also.” The mentor is thinking about her own health choices as she shops for healthy snacks for the youth. “The mentor thinks before grabbing a bag a potato chips, now. “We’re talking about busy people,” said Li. “These are students who also don’t have a lot of income, have busy schedules, are stressed out and have a lot of things going on in their lives.”
Youth Learn Why Health Matters to Them
After participating in a MIKE Program activity about how youth respond to healthy and unhealthy foods, Alison realized what it meant. She wrote on her lesson sheet, “health is all that matters.” She, like most of her peers is beginning to understand the links between their actions and their health.
Youth at two Portland schools are teamed with caring adults who provide healthy snacks and guidance through the youths’ health curriculum and leadership projects. Mentors play an important role as the youth discover the importance of their health decisions. In turn, the youth are developing the knowledge and skills to become role models in their school, family and community.
MIKE Program launched the 2011-2012 program at De La Salle North Catholic High School in October, where we serve about 100 youth. The program at Rosemary Anderson High School began in November.
MIKE Program Partners with Health Teachers to Strengthen Lessons
MIKE Program is a partnership on many levels: youth with mentors, mentors with MIKE Program, and MIKE Program with schools—especially, teachers. MIKE Program partners with health teachers who serve as site facilitators, welcoming MIKE Program’s award-winning curriculum and mentors. The curriculum provides a holistic approach to health, healthy lifestyles and healthy kidneys.
David Mickola of De La Salle North Catholic High School is now in his third year with MIKE Program. Mickola says, “I’ve seen a progression over time by the students, also increasing awareness of chronic disease and the very tangible link of the importance of drinking water over soda.” A graduate of Portland State and George Fox Universities, Mickola worked with medically-fragile children before teaching at De La Salle. With 22 mentors in his freshman health classes each week, Mickola appreciates the help and commitment. “It’s great to see the mentors engage and develop trust with their students.”
Mickola would like to see MIKE Program expand. “One of the most frequent questions I get from my seniors is, ‘why didn’t we get to do MIKE Program?’”
MIKE Program renewed its partnership with Rosemary Anderson High School/POIC this November. Youth at the school represent some of Portland’s most vulnerable. MIKE Program’s comprehensive approach ties the relationship of healthy lifestyles to positive role models. MIKE Program mentor Robert Brown undergoes weekly dialysis treatments, so he provides the RAHS youth a direct connection to the effects of kidney failure. He volunteers with MIKE Program because he saw a lack of positive role models in the community.
For Dennis Butler, instructor at Rosemary Anderson High School, MIKE Program offers engagement in healthy relationships as much as it does skills building.
Butler has been teaching and/or facilitating in education for 36 years. He appreciates how MIKE Program provides way for youth to counter the effects that lead to kidney failure.
MIKE Program in the Classroom: It’s a Learning Process
Last week in David Mickola’s classroom, the De La Salle North Catholic High School youth were absorbed in a conversation about teasing a fellow classmate for eating a healthy lunch. The youth were engaged in an exercise to highlight how teens respond to lunchroom situations. The majority laughed that they were eating pizza while their classmate was chewing on carrots.
Now in their seventh week, the mostly 14-year-olds still have much to learn as healthy eating extends beyond a classroom lesson. They are beginning to use individual health planners developed and provided by MIKE Program to guide them toward healthier choices. For MIKE Program, it’s a strategy for genuine change in behavior.
MIKE Program mentors listened as Mickola took his students through the process of discussing the implications of the scenario and what effect it had on the boy and themselves. After the discussion, the youth not only were more aware of how their actions, but were also more open to understanding how foods affect their health.
Youth today are more likely to value pizza and junk food over vegetables and fruits. MIKE Program carefully realigns those values to empower youth to understand the importance of their choices for their health now and in the future.
MIKE Program incorporates sensible, easy to access foods and actions to help build far greater success toward reaching that goal. To instill healthy habits, MIKE Program mentors bring healthy snacks to class each week. They focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains in healthy combinations as staples for the youth snacks. The process of bringing healthy snacks is also a learning process for the mentors. Catherine Stensby, who mentors two groups each week, commented that she was surprised by the price of grapes in the off-season, so she’s found other healthy foods that fit within her budget.
Greg Kluthe, who mentors with Stensby on Thursdays, said he’s watched the youth progress from ignoring the snacks during the first weeks, to now arriving at class looking for the snacks and water. The process helps youth adapt to the healthy choices through sharing a normal routine with their peers. It also builds consistency into their diet which may not be available at home.
The process is important to countering obesity. According to the Portland Plan, one in four youth are overweight in the Portland area, adding to the increase rates of diabetes at younger ages. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of kidney failure in the U.S. Losing weight and eating healthy can prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.
A Gallop poll released this week, asked about ways Americans have lost weight successfully. Those polled sited dietary changes and exercise as most reliable. The recently released draft of The Portland Plan counted one in every four youth in the region as overweight or obese. Such data point to one of the fundamental reasons for MIKE Program. Equipping teenagers with knowledge, skills and values to make healthier decisions prepares the youth to advocate for themselves, peers and families and avoid joining the rising segment of the population experiencing chronic non-communicable diseases.
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