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Kaiser Permanente believes when we collaborate and support each other, our work improves the quality of health and life in our communities.

We are dedicated to total health of body, mind, and spirit, and we pursue efforts that broaden access to the highest quality care for people when they need it. We believe all of us deserve to live healthy lives in our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods. That’s why, for more than 70 years, we have worked to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.

We accomplish this work in countless ways, from funding knowledge and resource sharing programs that address health disparities to providing assistance with health care costs to people in need. Our commitment is exhibited in the many ways we reach out and work with others to build a healthy future for all.

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MPOWR – Kids Paying it Forward

Michelle De La Rocha credits Kaiser Permanente’s MPOWR program for helping her become a more generous, positive person. Jeremiah Hughes, 11, from Redlands, said he likes that the program offers photography, dancing and singing classes that he doesn’t get at school.

De La Rocha added: “We are learning to do positive things for others without expecting anything in return,” she said, “It really has changed me, it has changed my attitude. I used to be shy and mean, now I am more open to meeting new people. The staff really cares about us,” said De La Rocha, a 12-year-old who attends school in San Bernardino.

She and Hughes are just two of 90 middle- school students who participated in an MPOWR gathering on July 3 at Redlands’ Burrage Mansion. MPOWR is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre program, and is designed to expose students to the arts while teaching them about creating healthy habits. For example, during the session, students were given water bottles and were taught the importance of drinking water over sugary drinks. There are three sites where the two-week summer program takes place: North Hollywood, Redlands and Watts, each which has about 30 participants.

“At MPOWR we support Kaiser Permanente’s mission by helping kids improve their self-esteem and by helping them realize that they can make a difference in their community. This year our theme was ‘Paying It Forward.’ All of our classes used this theme to teach empathy and awareness of others through the medium of art,” said Karla Melendez, Educational Theatre manager.

The day’s agenda included icebreakers, a scavenger hunt, and decorating tiny structures that would become Little Free Library boxes –micro-libraries scattered throughout neighborhoods around the country, available for anyone to use. Some of the participants hadn’t been that far from home, ever. Many of them said that the most powerful part of the MPOWR program is the connections they make.

“I like getting together with everyone, usually I stay to myself but like to see everyone and hang out,” Hughes said.

Omega Marshall, 12, from Compton, said the interactions have changed him. “I’ve learned to have a different point of view for things, and that different people have different views and that’s cool,” he said, adding that for the rest of his life, he’ll remember “the effect that people who care about you can have in only two weeks.”

Photo 1: Omega Marshall and his MPOWR friends decorate boxes that will become micro-libraries.

Photo 2: Jeremiah Hughes, Michelle De La Rocha and Omega Marshall participated in the MPOWR program.