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.”
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