OMYF Community Spotlight: Orlando Health Foundation

By Josh Cohen
June 4, 2012

ORLANDO – When you hear that teenagers are visiting soda and candy vending machines as many as 30 times a week, you know some assistance is needed.

Such poor eating habits leads to deficiency in categories across the board, including obesity, lack of energy and reduced performance in the classroom.

But as we learned last year when the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, a McCormick Foundation Fund (OMYF-MFF), granted some aid to the Orlando Health Foundation (Howard Phillips Center) and its free Teen Xpress program, kids can be influenced to change their lifestyle.

As a result of all the success this organization had in altering food choices underprivileged teens make, the OMYF-MFF decided to again donate $100,000 to Teen Xpress.

“The Orlando Magic understands the importance of combining healthy eating habits with physical fitness. It is through programs like Teen Xpress that we can collectively make a difference with the youth in our community,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “With our McCormick Foundation match, we are proud to be able to provide a grant like this to Orlando Health Foundation.”

The extra funding allowed this program to hire dieticians and a case coordinator to help educate all of the students about the importance of a healthy, nutritious diet and also closely monitor their behaviors.

“A lot of kids don’t have time to guide themselves through so they need someone to check their physical health,” said Rita Vento, Program Manager for Teen Xpress. “Kids tend to eat stuff that is more convenient rather than healthy. But with professionals to direct them, they are able to make much better choices.”

Change was noticeable and now with another generous donation from the OMYF-MFF, Teen Xpress is seeing even more progression.

There are more activities than ever involved in the curriculum that this program offers, which include Zumba dance and cooking classes. For instance, there is now a community garden at one of the sites in which students are able to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

“We want to make it more interesting for kids,” Vento said. “Rather than just classroom lecturing, we are able to make it more active.”

Teen Xpress has assisted so many kids through the years that some of the participants wanted to demonstrate to others just how helpful it is.

A rap video, which includes not only the kids of the program but also the doctors and counselors, was created to educate and engage any potential future participants. To watch, click on this link

Over the last 22 years, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation has distributed more than $17 million to local non-profit community organizations. The OMYF raises community dollars annually through donations, auctions and events such as the Black Tie and Tennies Gala and the OMYF Golf Tournament with matching funds at $0.50 on the dollar provided by the McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has been providing matching funds for the OMYF since 1994 (OMYF-MFF).

To learn more or make a difference with a donation, visit omyf.org.