Second-year medical student Bryan Whitlow received a grant from the Texas Medical Association to support the Medical Miles Mentor Program that pairs Baylor student-volunteers with HISD middle schoolers to promote a healthy lifestyle.
The program at Cullen Middle School strives to tackle the obesity epidemic through a daily exercise program. But Whitlow and the other medical student-volunteers hope that their mentorship will not only help develop life-long positive attitudes toward exercise but also lead to improved academic performance and self-esteem and even launch career aspirations.
“I feel like this program is important for several reasons. The first is that childhood obesity is an increasing problem, and children are becoming increasingly sedentary. This is very detrimental to their health and will impact them for the rest of their life. I believe that it is much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle if it is something you have been doing since you were a kid,” Whitlow said.
“I also believe the mentor aspects of the program and the exercise can help these kids improve their performance in the classroom, and hopefully they will start thinking of the future and what they want to do with their lives.”
Whitlow notes that the program is very well-rounded, teaching the students about the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle and providing important lessons on self-image, conflict resolution and other topics as well as providing tools to help them better understand where they want to be in 10 to 15 years and what they can do to accomplish their goals.
The program includes 10 minutes of mentor group check-in and stretching, followed by a 10-minute warm up of recess type games. That is followed by a 45-minute workout and 20 minutes of mentoring activities, such as goal setting and evaluation. Medical Miles started as a weekly program but is now being run on a daily basis. With grant money, medical students have purchased additional supplies and are working to increase the number of participants, implement a system to track students’ performance and improvements and get students’ families more involved.
Whitlow has been involved with Medical Miles since he was a first-year student. He is also very active in Baylor’s Texas Medical Association chapter. As a first-year student, he served as the service coordinator for the chapter, and he is now on the state committee for patient and physician advocacy. He is also a member of the Student Surgical Society, where he serves as the skills lab coordinator. He has also been involved in ophthalmology research and is a member of the ophthalmology interest group at Baylor.
He is most interested currently in ophthalmology as his specialty, however he’s keeping an open mind as he goes through clinical training. Other interests include anesthesiology, family medicine with a sports medicine focus, and internal medicine or pediatrics.