Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon

by MIKE Program
Dec 6, 2012

Healthy Lifestyles Equal Healthy Relationships

MIKE Program Mentor Richard Burton
MIKE Program Mentor Richard Burton

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.”

Kim Whitney with A Wooden Kidney
Kim Whitney with A Wooden Kidney
Laura Pagenstecher presents poster at SOPHE
Laura Pagenstecher presents poster at SOPHE



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Organization Information

MIKE Program

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Cheryl Neal
Portland, OR United States
$2,310 raised of $272,133 goal
13 donations
$269,823 to go
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