Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon

by MIKE Program
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon
Madeleine's Overnight Oatmeal
Madeleine's Overnight Oatmeal

Madeleine is so passionate about good health, she dedicates her few hours of free time to mentor high school students. And, she has little time for herself as a second-year medical student at Western University of Health Sciences (WUHS) in Oregon. For Madeleine, it’s all about connecting and sharing to make more lives better.

As a mentor with MIKE Program, Madeleine volunteers her time to help guide her fellow mentors through lesson plans for high school students at Sweet Home High School. The WUHS medical students develop activities focused on topics that the high school students find most interesting. MIKE surveyed the students and mentors to discover what they think is most important in health. From how the brain works to how to prevent addictions, the lessons bring together these two groups of students to discover and discuss issues that most concern them.

The students meet through Zoom, as lingering COVID-19 protocols are still in place for all medical facilities. To create more engagement, the WUHS medical students present a mix of professional and personal takes on health. Each lesson features one or two WUHS mentors hosting an informational discussion about a health topic, then they join the SHHS students in Zoom breakout rooms to further discuss the topic in smaller, more conversational groups. The sessions with the high school students help the WUHS students develop communication skills they’ll need in their profession.

One of their most fun activities is sharing tips on healthy eating through live demonstrations. Madeleine chose to feature her favorite go-to food, overnight oatmeal. She set her laptop camera up so she could show step-by-step how she prepares her oatmeal, as she provided nutrition facts. The students watched as she began with whole oats in a bowl, then poured in almond milk, some walnuts and blueberries and mixed all the ingredients together. Madeleine said she uses mason jars to store the mixture overnight, so in the morning she has a yummy and very nutritious breakfast to start off her day.

Madeleine shared that oats are a whole grain that helps lower blood sugar levels while providing antioxidants and promoting healthy gut bacteria. Almond milk is a good source of Vitamin E, which protects your cells and can help protect against heart disease. Walnuts are considered a superfood, because they offer a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, some protein, fiber and magnesium. And blueberries provide Vitamins C and K, and are also a good source of fiber. What a fun way to share a healthy breakfast. And, the students were so impressed, that they hosted an oatmeal breakfast buffet in the classroom the very next day.

As for what’s next on the agenda for the WUHS mentors? They’re busy preparing lessons on the benefits of physical activity, chronic disease prevention and how personal identity impacts your health. For these mentors, aspects of their medical careers has already begun—and it’s making a difference in the lives of the students at Sweet Home High School.

MIKE appreciates how your support makes these connection possible. Together, we can build a healthier future.

Add some almond milk to the oats.
Add some almond milk to the oats.
Add blueberries, walnuts and breakfast is served.
Add blueberries, walnuts and breakfast is served.

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Brian shares health information.
Brian shares health information.

Students with Warner Pacific University’s (WP) Departments of Nursing and Physical Therapy usually train with each other to develop interpersonal skills that they’ll use in their future professions. Yet one group of students has taken on an added experience that places them directly inside a classroom of ninth graders to mentor young people toward healthy behaviors.

For Brian, who is studying occupational therapy at WP, his mentoring experience at De La Salle North Catholic High School (DLSNC) has surprised and inspired him.

“One thing I noticed about the class is that they really get comfortable with us mentors very quickly,” he said. “After our session I had one student call out my name from down the hall as I was leaving and he just gave me a good bye wave which I thought was totally cool considering the fact that it was my first day as a mentor and I was only in the class room for about 40 minutes.”

His colleagues, all WP nursing students, arrive in their bright blue scrubs ready to share their excitement about health. They work together to create lessons and activities around a specific health topic each week. They’ve developed lessons on nutrition, exercise, how food affects the brain, ways to manage stress, understanding the current impact of COVID-19, and how to fact check sources.

The WP students take turns presenting the main topic of the day, then they gather in small groups with the DLSNC students to participate in activities and discussions. The smaller groups help promote discussions where everyone gets a chance to talk and share.

“It was interesting to see individual participation of some in smaller groups,” said WP mentor Emma. “They were more engaging, inquisitive, and well adjusted, compared to when they are in the full classroom.”

Her colleague Dev, also a nursing student at WP agreed. “By being in the small groups, the students were able to voice their opinion and participated more in the discussions.”

The ninth graders at DLSNC provide the WP students with genuine reactions about the lesson content and information, especially during their session about understanding health misinformation and sourcing.

Sienna said, “I learned that a lot of influencers promote unrealistic things.” Kim shared, “It’s important to fact check so you don’t spread misinformation accidently.” And Sam said that he learned that misinformation is bigger than he realized. “It’s important because it can cause frustration.”

For the WP mentors, their experience at DLSNC helps them build leadership skills and confidence in presenting health information to a younger audience. Belle said, “I like that the material is relatable to the students, which increases more engagement when prompted with questions.”

Such engagement helps foster positive relationships, which help build knowledge and trust. Your donations help foster this vital experience for both college and high school students. MIKE is thankful for your support to nurture our future healthcare professionals.

Belle guides students through lesson.
Belle guides students through lesson.
Gabby shares a healthy snack.
Gabby shares a healthy snack.

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Maria mentors students
Maria mentors students

MIKE Program encompasses more than science, youth development and health curriculum. We also embrace cultural values, ideas and perspectives to guide how we approach and advocate for good health. This summer, as we prepare for a new school year, we are amplifying our outreach to better reflect the needs and interests of those we serve.

MIKE works with high school students who stand within the intersectionality of our communities. We provide mentored health education to advance more equitable outcomes within communities experiencing higher rates of health disparities. We are enriched by the interactions, experiences and collaborations we share. We then internalize these contributions into our mentored health education content, lessons, activities and multi-media resources.

“I am so happy that you do what you do and people like you are making the difference that we need in our world, especially for these young people,” said Yemaly, a patient care coordinator with the Diabetes Clinic at Pacific University and a Food Promotora with Familias en Acción. Having faced the challenges exhibited by the students in a young parents group in Beaverton, Yemaly was able to speak directly to their needs. She had gained enough experience as a MIKE mentor in 2015 to seamlessly inspire and support the students this year.

MIKE took a more concentrated focus on health careers for our second group of high school students in Beaverton. By utilizing technology and community connections, we brought health professionals directly to the students. Professionals from more than a dozen different health fields shared their experiences, career advice and training tips. The opportunity to meet these individuals and ask spontaneous questions was so popular that several other classes joined in for a number of sessions.

“I greatly enjoyed this opportunity and have gained so much new insight during each of these sessions,” said Sahra, who mentored this group. “I think we’ve done a great job of exposing the students to such a broad range of careers and opportunities.”

By connecting students to health professionals that reflect their cultural and ethnic backgrounds and experiences, MIKE reinforces the importance of promoting diversity.

Why is this such a priority for MIKE? In a study conducted by a recent graduate of the University of Portland this spring, a lack of diversity contributed to additional challenges, both social and economic for underserved students. The study respondents noted that such challenges were deterring factors for pursuing careers in healthcare. MIKE partnered with the project to explore how the current level of disparities within Oregon’s healthcare system impacted students and health professionals.

“This project was more meaningful to me and MIKE Program than either of us could have hoped or imagined,” said Jordan, project lead for the study. “As a pre-med, it hurt deeply to read the dozens of comments that expressed such distrust in the healthcare system we have present today. I want to be a part of a generation of doctors that restores the faith in healthcare providers and the healthcare system as a whole.”

Jordan surveyed more than 760 individuals, including students from regional high schools and universities, to healthcare physicians, nurses and other technicians and patients. Many of the respondents pointed to a lack of diversity they saw in healthcare and the lack of mentoring as major barriers into the profession.

“I rarely see anyone of my same ethnicity (I have predominantly Mexican ancestry) working in healthcare facilities,” said one high school respondent. “If I had seen someone who shared my similar background, I would have felt way more comfortable.”

Of the high school students who are considering careers in healthcare, having a mentor to help guide them was the primary reason why they believed they could be successful in a healthcare career.

“I feel like having someone who’s black like me and understands my struggles, as well as there’s less of a chance with medical racist tendencies, will be great for me,” replied another respondent.

That’s why MIKE continues to build a network of diverse mentors and programming content. Donors like you help us reach these underserved students and inspire them to greater confidence to break through barriers. Your donation provides us with the resources to positively impact these young people.

Madeleine mentors students
Madeleine mentors students
Yemaly mentors students
Yemaly mentors students

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Chris demonstrates cooking techniques for teens.
Chris demonstrates cooking techniques for teens.

It’s National Volunteer Month and MIKE is excited to celebrate all the people who volunteer to improve the health of youth. As a volunteer-based organization, MIKE relies on the generosity and care provided by volunteers who mentor youth in health education and support the operational workings of the organization.

Here’s one example of the extraordinary individuals that volunteer with MIKE.

Having trained at the Portland Culinary Arts Institute, Chris was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with teen parents in MIKE’s Beaverton site. Chris, who had mentored with MIKE at a Portland school last semester, jumped at the opportunity to share some specialized skills with the teen parents. The students struggle more than their peers as they juggle high school, work and raising young children. Keeping them healthy is vital.

MIKE created a four-week interactive series for the teens, with a focus on one major food group each week. Since schools were still closed, MIKE set up videoconferencing so Chris could demonstrate cooking techniques live and provide the teens with a way to directly connect into the action.

Chris chose healthy recipes that would be easy to prepare and offer important nutrients. MIKE filled a bag with the food ingredients for each teen, then delivered them through their teacher so they could have the food items at home when Chris hosted his live demonstrations.

The teens were excited to learn how to prepare peanut butter banana pockets the first week. Several even followed along in their kitchens as Chris prepared the ingredients. The students appreciated how they could ask Chris questions while he was cooking. They asked about which type of pans work best and how to substitute certain ingredients.

During the following weeks, MIKE repeated the bag deliveries to the teens so they could cook virtually alongside their guest chef. One week Chris featured a spicy celery salad. He also demonstrated how to make quinoa tacos and homemade granola. The teens commented on how Chris’ demonstrations and conversations encouraged them to cook more and try new things. Most of all, the food demonstrations reinforced healthy connections—to food and people.

As a donor, you also play a vital role in mentoring healthy youth. Your donations provide MIKE with the opportunity to provide such impactful programming. Together, we can make a positive difference in the lives of youth.

Chris shows how to slice bananas.
Chris shows how to slice bananas.
Chris adds final ingredients to homemade granola.
Chris adds final ingredients to homemade granola.

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Medical students and youth engage through Zoom.
Medical students and youth engage through Zoom.

2020 has proved to be a challenging year for everyone, especially for high school students. The stark reality of closing schools and shifting education online has changed how teachers, students and the community engage. Yet, positive changes have emerged, such as the MIKE Health Club at Sweet Home High School.

Students in grades 9-12 are joining an opportunity to engage directly with medical school students in this unique program. Ten medical students from Western University of Health Science, COMP-Northwest (WUHS), are volunteering to mentor youth each week, even with their own demanding schedules. As one of the mentors, Joe says, “This is something I cherish with the Mike Program because it enables me to improve myself while given the privilege of helping others.”

The MIKE Health Club is held once a week between the high school students’ other classes. The students log in each week to learn about health and healthcare careers. And, what better way than having the opportunity to talk directly with young professionals who are working toward those careers in healthcare.

The Sweet Home High School teacher involved in the MIKE Health Club shares that the students are so excited for this opportunity. One of the most popular segments each week includes the breakout time. This provides the students direct time with their mentors for some meaningful conversation. It is one of the biggest draws of the MIKE Health Club. The discussion focus reinforces the information presented in the lesson plan and provides the youth with a direct line of communication with students and other healthcare professionals. The conversations illuminate topics of interest for the youth and help build trust in health information.

The MIKE Club also features a guest speaker each week. The mentors reach out to professionals in the community that work in the field that is covered in the lesson plan. It provides the youth with additional opportunities to meet physicians, counselors, dieticians and others as they explore a variety of career options.

Lou, who is one of the lead mentors with the WUHS team says, “I’ve experienced first-hand how my energy, overall health, and ability to do the things that I love changes depending on the decisions I am making every day. I am eager to share what I have learned about health, as well as to continue to learn about what it means to lead a healthy lifestyle with the youth.”

As MIKE continues to build relevant health programming and opportunities for youth, it is only possible because of supporters like you. With end 2020 having met numerous challenges, yet look toward 2021 with renewed energy and vision. Together, we can make a positive impact in the lives of youth.

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Organization Information

MIKE Program

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @mikeprogram
Project Leader:
Cheryl Neal
Portland, OR United States
$2,417 raised of $272,133 goal
 
17 donations
$269,716 to go
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