Magic Continue to Show Support for AdventHealth and Hebni Nutrition Consultants

OMYF's grant recipients are adding new virtual features to youth fitness program
by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - Social distancing is essential to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Technology, therefore, is making it possible for many of us to stay committed to our normal routines.

This is especially true for the multidisciplinary team and patients of AdventHealth for Children’s Healthy Weight and Wellness Program and Hebni Nutrition Consultants, as the two agencies continue to work in partnership to keep kids active and help them reach their fitness goals through the virtual space during this pandemic.

The temporary alterations they are making to the program during these challenging times will enable AdventHealth and Hebni’s staff to educate, treat and encourage patients even without in-person consultation.

“Technology gives us the opportunity to stay connected to our families and to bridge the gap that social distancing has done,” said Dr. Angela Fals, a board certified obesity medicine pediatrician at AdventHealth and the medical director of the Healthy Weight and Wellness Clinic and Program.

The support AdventHealth and Hebni receive from the Orlando Magic and their youth foundation (OMYF), Dr. Fals says, is a huge motivator. Not only has the OMYF’s financial assistance the last few years made a big difference on the mission, so has the team’s cheers and encouragement.

“We really wouldn’t be able to do the work that we do without their support. That’s really the truth,” Dr. Fals said. “It gives us the opportunity to reach families that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Being able to do all of these components with OMYF’s assistance helps the families be successful.”

Several of the program’s new features being implemented during the stay-at-home shutdown include virtual versions of cooking workshops, personal training sessions and grocery store scavenger hunts – all of which will help the patients optimize their health while they socially distance from others.

In each, the kids will go online and learn from health experts via virtual group activities and lessons. For instance, for the cooking workshops, children will be guided through a recipe and then be quizzed on it after or they will record their work in the kitchen and then reveal the meals they have prepared. Similarly, the online personal training sessions will give the children fitness solutions while gyms are unavailable. AdventHealth’s staff is also considering creating virtual group fitness classes, where the children will be able to work out simultaneously as they collectively watch instructors perform exercise routines.

Some of the tutorials, such as the pantry makeovers, won’t change at all because they were already being conducted virtually. The over-the-phone health coaching in English and Spanish will also be managed the same way as usual.

Even though it may take some time for everyone to get used to the adjustments, Dr. Fals says she is already getting positive reviews from patients, who reside primarily in Orange, Seminole and Osceola Counties. Some have wasted no time getting prepared. In fact, one family made an exercise room in their house so that the daughter, who loves to workout, can stay active. A different young girl from the same neighborhood, Dr. Fals adds, has been eating a lot of vegetables lately because her mother has stocked up on them in their home.

What Dr. Fals and other healthcare professionals hope are that children and families realize this is just temporary and that the work they do to build healthy habits during this challenging period will make them stronger on the other side.

“We talk to them from the beginning to take health and wellness in very short spurts. We’re not going to talk about losing one-hundred-fifty-pounds. Yes, eventually we do need to get to that point but we’re not going to talk about losing the hundred-fifty-pounds from here to the next six months. That’s not realistic,” Dr. Fals said. “So, we ask them to think about their goals. Let’s just think about what we are going to do for the next one month or even for some it’s just what are we going to do this week. This is just a temporary thing.”

“Now could be a really good time to really get active, to really work out, to really learn some new exercises and try some new things,” she added. “And really to spend that quality family time. Whether it’s sitting down at family meals together (or) everybody cooking together."

AdventHealth for Children and Hebni has received $200,000 already from the OMYF, which over the past 30 years has distributed $25 million to assist and inspire Central Florida children, and will get another $100,000 next year as part of a three-year collaborative grant agreement to continue augmenting the program.

Nearly 4,000 kids have benefitted from the program since inception in 2010.

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