Orlando Magic recognizes the local elementary school for winning the four-week MAGIC Fit Fitness Challenge with Special Ceremony
ORLANDO – While this is certainly a challenge, especially in places where gyms have been or are still closed and social distancing guidelines prevent many from participating in team sports, it was incredibly important to change our exercise habits during this pandemic.
Another key was maintaining a healthy diet, especially if you are staying indoors for long periods of time.
Through persistence, adaptation, and an overall perspective, many ways, albeit some unique and unconventional, discovered to overcome these obstacles. This has been the case with many children across central Florida.
One school in the community that worked hard to ensure that its students stay fit and committed to their health and wellbeing was Hunter’s Creek Elementary School. They were one of 21 nearby schools that participated in the four-week MAGIC Fit-Fitness Challenge and one of 11 schools that completed the challenge with 100 percent participation.
On Thursday March 25th, Orlando Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw visited along with representatives from Florida Technical College (FTC) who, like Magic, are committed to programs and services related to health and wellness Focus on the school and celebrated their successes with a physically distant ceremony on the outdoor basketball court.
“This is a great thing. Just giving the kids a sense of responsibility and that also lets them know you are having fun and can be rewarded for exercising, ”said Outlaw. “I think that’s a big deal. This is the way they train and they really don’t think they are working out, getting in shape (and) getting fit (because they are having fun), and if we can reward them, that’s a great thing. ”
The four-week fitness challenge MAGIC Fit is an incentive-based training program for children that was developed in 2014 by the Magic strength and conditioning team. Schools in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties are invited to participate in the program. Due to the pandemic, the grand prize ceremony had to be changed. In recent years, the winning school received a MAGIC Fit Fun Day with various competitions and exercises organized by Magic in the school’s gym. Schools that achieve 100 percent student participation in the four-week challenge will be enrolled to win the MAGIC Fit Fun Day as a reward for students and faculty for their commitment to the program.
MAGIC Fit was the team’s first fitness and nutrition program for teenagers. As per NBA FIT guidelines, the goal of the program is to improve knowledge of healthy eating habits and fitness exercise among at-risk children in the area. Promoting physical activity and healthy living for children and families, NBA FIT is a comprehensive health and wellness platform that promotes healthy, active lifestyles for children and adults.
Thursday’s event recognized 10 of the students who went the extra mile, along with a few school staff including headmistress Fresia Urdaneta and physical education teacher Hayden Clapper. Anderson and Outlaw gave the kids some basketball tips and each surprised them with a Magic jersey. Each student in the school received a Magic basketball with Magic player Cole Anthony, who brought them a pre-recorded message of congratulations that morning. In addition, the FTC provided each student with a drawstring pouch so that their basketballs can be easily transported home.
“It’s a phenomenal event. I know the Orlando Magic supports this every year. It was just amazing that our students were selected this year to promote fitness, ”said Urdaneta. “It’s something that we keep pushing all year round and it was phenomenal because this year the teachers combined it with music and did all the exercises with music and the kids really love it and they are already used to the routines. ”
Research has shown that the more active a child is in sports and exercise in general, the more likely they are to achieve academic performance in the classroom. Urdaneta and the Hunter’s Creek teachers must have noticed this. It’s another reason they felt participating in Magic’s Fitness Challenge was so important to them.
“Students participating in after-school activities are directly related to their performance (in the classroom),” said Urdaneta. “They are usually high-flyers. You have great grades. They develop these strategies with their sport and that goes into the classroom or vice versa. ”
What helps the magic get the message across is having strong, like-minded partners in their corner. As dedicated as Magic to helping children reach their full potential, FTC is as the two partnered with Magic player Jonathan Isaac and Project Life last summer to help food insecure families in central Florida. Project Life hunger relief efforts by Magic, Isaac, and FTC included providing resources along with hot meals to areas of the Orlando community hardest hit by the coronavirus. FTC students prepared the meals that were donated to Project Life. The students and FTC staff also helped distribute these meals to the community.
“I think that’s really important. We have a bigger initiative called FTC Cares, and by working with big organizations like Orlando Magic, we can really amplify our message and reach and help more people, ”said FTC President Dr. James Michael Burkett. “The more we work together in Central Florida, the more people we can help and the stronger our community becomes.”