Students who participate have the opportunity to win Orioles-themed prizes as well as tickets to their Feb. 23 Spring Training game.
Not every attempt to teach kids about health and fitness hits a home run. The Baltimore Orioles have a leg up on that challenge, though.
In fact, the Orioles visited Booker Middle School on Feb. 19 to work out with students as part of the Orioles Health and Fitness Challenge.
Students participated in a variety of fitness activities with the team members during their afternoon physical education class, switching between stations where they did lunges, crunches, pushups and dips.
Orioles Vice President David Rovine took part with the students, along with pitcher Mychal Givens, outfielder Trey Mancini, pitcher Mike Wright Jr., former second baseman Brian Roberts and Madison Wright, a personal trainer and registered dietician.
After working through the various fitness stations with the students, the Orioles team members also cheered them on through a relay race, then did lunges with the losing team.
While his classmates ran from station to station, Booker Middle School student Carron Chestnut stopped to explain how he loved working out with the Orioles because the exercises were both “fun and hard,” and he got to do it with his friends.
"It's fun because I get to exercise," echoed Jsiyah Taylor, one of Chestnut’s classmates who runs track and plays both basketball and volleyball.
The Orioles Health and Fitness Challenge program was launched in 2016 and helps students learn to “eat, train and live like the pros.”
“The five-week Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge is offered each year in 10 county schools for approximately 4,500 students in grades six through eight,” the school district said in a release. “Students participate in a variety of health and fitness challenges, including exercises to build endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, and balance. Sarasota County Physical Education teachers present the program during regular school hours.”
“We continue to do this because of that relationship we get to have with the kids,” Givens said. “We want to give back. We want to have that experience of communication and comfortability for kids to know that some guys like us, we’re dedicated to being around them and talking about health and nutrition.”
Once students and teammates alike completed their workout for the day, the Orioles had the opportunity to open up about how they keep healthy and answer students' questions.
“The reason it's important to form these healthy habits in your body when you're young is because you're going to make changes in your body that are going to last you a lifetime," Madison Wright said to students while explaining what healthy foods they should aim to eat. "And the younger you develop these healthy habits, the more likely you are to continue them through the rest of your life."
Other team members enforced these concepts while also joking about how to avoid fast food (just don't stop the car) or how the biggest health change they'd made was getting eight hours of sleep a night.
Jokes aside, Booker Middle Assistant Principal Derek Jenkins said that he was excited to have the Orioles attend for a day, and that he'd welcome them back every year that he can. Additionally, he said, baseball in and of itself is the perfect sport for helping to teach students about rising above failure.
“A lot of our kids love sports and I’m always trying to embed sports and life messages in our daily messages in our morning news,” he said. “There are so many life lessons in baseball. But the biggest gift we can give to our kids is helping them learn to persevere, no matter what.”