Cesar challenges youth to healthy snacks.
MIKE Program youth challenged a group of eighth-grade students to a test during the last days of school this year. The youth didn’t use paper or pencils for this test. The youth visited their local grocery store for testing materials to entice the students into a healthy snack taste test.
Cesar, one of the young men with MIKE’s afterschool program at Miller Education Center West in Hillsboro, Oregon, wanted to impress his classmates with his newly-gained skills in nutrition and cooking. He remembered watching his older peers share their healthy food ideas in years past. Now, he said it was his turn.
“Your life is only as good as your health,” said Cesar. “We need to start being healthy now.”
After months of actively participating in MIKE, the youth were determined to come up with healthy snack alternatives that their younger peers would actually prepare and eat.
Cesar and his team focused on how they could convince eighth graders that healthy snacks can be easy to make and delicious. Cesar knew that this project would involve more than posters to change minds, so he and his teammates arranged for a cooking demonstration. The youth invited their younger peers and several teachers to the presentation inside the school’s cafeteria.
Cesar and two of his classmates introduced their guests to chicken and vegetable roll-ups as a main snack or lunch item. Cesar and his teammates took turns explaining how each item contributed to a healthy diet, as they mixed the ingredients before their audience. They scooped the mix onto spinach wraps, rolled them up and served them to their eager peers.
For a second round, the team featured a fresh-fruit cup. Cesar said the combination of melons, mangoes, strawberries and lime are a traditional choice in his Latino community. He convinced his younger peers to try a cultural take with the snack by sprinkling some Pico Limon onto the fruit. The spicy seasoning added a lively flavor that intrigued the young taste-testers. By the time the eighth graders returned for more samples, the room was filled with conversations about the snacks and how to bring the ideas home.
The health leadership projects offer youth a means to connect with their communities. MIKE equips youth with the knowledge, skills and confidence to create youth-driven solutions aimed at improving health. MIKE’s health leadership projects provide youth with a community-service outreach experience for developing leadership skills and advancing health equity.
“At first MIKE seemed like just another program,” said Arlen. “But it became way more than that. It became a family-friendly environment where we not only learned and taught, but grew together as a whole.”
Of the 29 health leadership projects MIKE youth delivered this year, 35 percent were focused on healthy eating. It was the top theme of choice for the youth, who fanned out into their communities to share their ideas with more than 740 youth, families and community members.
Luis prepares for his cooking demonstration.
MIKE youth present a healthy snacks presentation.