Orlando Magic Youth Foundation Spotlight: Florida Hospital for Children

By Josh Cohen
May 29, 2014

ORLANDO – Childhood obesity remains one of the more challenging problems in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

However, Florida Hospital for Children’s Healthy 100 Kids Program is playing a big role in combating this issue and now with some extra support from the Orlando Magic, more and more kids in Central Florida are conquering the problem.

Earlier this year, Florida Hospital for Children was one of 25 nonprofit organizations to receive financial assistance from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF-MFF), a McCormick Foundation Fund since 1994, in an effort to build its programs. They obtained $30,000, which will allow more children the opportunity to learn how to be healthier and more active.

“This is an amazing opportunity that’s been given to us,” said Dr. Angela Fals, Medical Director at Florida Hospital for Children. “We’ve been able to help more than 1,600 kids over the past three-and-a-half years and now having the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation’s help allows us to continue helping more and more children. This will allow us to expand our reach to the community.”

According to the CDC, obesity is the result of a caloric imbalance, which suggests too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, environmental factors.

By working with kids now who may be struggling with weight issues, it lessens the chances they will continue to deal with this problem later in life. In fact, children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and as a result are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

While the focal point of the programs at Florida Hospital is centered on the kids, parents are also an integral part of the process. It’s important for adults to become aware of effective physical activities and dietary options so they can convey this knowledge to their kids at home.

“Now being able to continue (as a recipient of the OMYF-MFF grant) we can further expand the programming and workshops,” Fals said. “We also now have a partnership with the Central Florida YMCA so now we can all work together and assist more kids than ever before.”

A grand sum of $600,000 by OMYF-MFF was awarded to the 25 organizations in January. A total of $3.8 million has been awarded by the OMYF-MFF over the past four years and more than $18.8 million in the past 24 years.

Magic community relations programs impact an estimated 75,000 kids each year, while a Magic staff-wide initiative provides more than 6,000 volunteer hours annually.

“We really do get to impact youth by helping all of the great work that all of these organizations are doing,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “There are hundreds of youth organizations throughout Central Florida who are doing great work to help at-risk youth and set them on a path for a better life. This is just a small way for us to try and help them do their work. They do all of the work, and for us to be able to distribute all of these funds and expand the number of youth that they serve or add another program, it’s incredibly meaningful to us.”

The 2014 grant recipients are: Adult Literacy League, Apopka Family Learning Center, BETA Center, Boys Town Central Florida, Children’s Home Society of Florida, City Year, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, Elevate Orlando, Florida Hospital for Children, Foundation for Foster Children, Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, Gift of Swimming, Harbor House of Central Florida, Hebni Nutrition Consultants, Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, Orange County Library System, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Osceola Council on Aging, Rescue Outreach Mission of Central Florida, The Center for Drug Free Living-Zebra Coalition, The Salvation Army, University of Central Florida Foundation, Valencia College Foundation