OMYF Community Spotlight: Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families

By Josh Cohen
June 2, 2011

ORLANDO – The importance of exercise and nutrition is evident, but many, especially teenagers who perhaps don’t immediately understand the detriments of inactivity and a poor diet, often need additional education and a push from others to live a healthier lifestyle.

Obesity remains one of the most challenging and destructive problem kids face today, but thanks to Teen Xpress, more of Central Florida’s youth are living more effervescently and productively.

Aiming to increase nutritional knowledge and physical activity and improve mental stability, Teen Xpress continues to offer underprivileged and uninsured teens in Orange County access to an assortment of health services, including personal dieticians, trainers and therapists.

And without the help of the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, such a program would most likely not be possible. Earlier this year, the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families received a $100,000 grant from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund to help support this program.

“Without OMYF, we weren’t able to grow on our own,” Howard Phillips Center Development Manager Amy Drury said. “We wouldn’t be able to provide this extra layer of services.”

Over the last 21 years, the OMYF has distributed more than $16 million to local non-profit community organizations. The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament. Fundraising efforts then go to the Fund, and are matched at $0.50 on the dollar by the McCormick Foundation. In 2011, in addition to presenting checks totaling $1 million to 19 non-profit organizations, the OMYF-MFF also awarded scholarships totaling $30,000.

``We are proud to be able to assist organizations who are in need during these tough economic times,’’ Orlando Magic President Alex Martins said. ``It is only possible through a collaborative effort of the DeVos family, this community, our players, coaches, staff, corporate partners and season ticket holders that we are capable of distributing $1 million this year. Most importantly we want to recognize and thank those who work every day with the youth of our community … they are the true heroes.’’

The 2011 grant recipients from OMYF include: Adult Literacy League, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Boys Town of Central Florida, Coalition for the Homeless, Conductive Education Center of Orlando, Crealde School of Art, Education Foundation-Osceola County, Elevate Orlando, Foundation for Orange County Public Schools, Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Hope Foundation for the Homeless, Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, Orlando Ballet, Florida Hospital for Children, Harbor House of Central Florida, Hope Community Center, Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families and the Valencia Community College Foundation.

Teen Xpress, meanwhile, has also partnered with other organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank to give teens and their families food packs that come equipped with nutritional guidance and serving sizes.

All of the medical and mental healthcare services are not only provided completely free of charge to the teen population the program serves, they are also brought to the schools on the center’s mobile unit for the convenience of children and families who face transportation challenges.

With 900 students between the ages of 10-21 from four different schools as well as the Wayne Densch YMCA currently enrolled in the program, Drury says she has seen incredible development since Teen Xpress inaugurated in 1997.

“We are seeing great results with our kids,” she said. “It has helped engage all of the families and schools that are involved.”