MIKE Program’s mission is to empower youth to be health leaders through education, mentorship and community outreach. We connect caring adults to guide groups of teens in need of friendship building and team building skills as well as academic and career development. Adults meet youth in classrooms with teachers or in youth agencies with youth workers for ~1.5-2 hours weekly for at least a semester, or more often, an academic year block; or in a summer-long experience as much as twice a week for 7-10 weeks . The adults serve as a mentor to a small group of teens which reinforces appropriate behavior on-the-spot in the actual social environment the youth navigate daily. Working from a curriculum which guides development in a sequential way, mentors equip youth to take charge of their own health while at the same time becoming a voice of health in their community by preparing a uniquely crafted health message geared to upper elementary or middle school youngsters and presented in or to their community.
The curriculum includes designing a T-shirt with a health message that is then worn as a representation of MIKE Program on field trips which include trips to a grocery store to do a scavenger hunt for foods with healthy qualities, and a trip to a kidney dialysis center, and to complete their community presentation. You will meet people on dialysis, in health care careers, and other business people. Examples of youth projects include community parties or carnivals with games geared to healthy messages, healthy food, and presentation of a skit or PowerPoint or DVD full of health tips. Youth have even gone “on the road” with their messages in a cross cultural exchange of ideas and inspiration. In fact the idea is to develop an inspire:aspire model that brings the steps on the ladder of success to healthy lives and health care careers close enough together that the youngsters who do not have strong medical advantages will inhabit a world where young people meet their potential in vibrant good health, participating fully as members of a vibrant, strong society.