Orioles pitchers and catchers are reporting to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla., in just a few short weeks, meaning spring is right around the corner. Goodbye, winter’s chill, hello spring’s warmth.
While the weather warms up and the Orioles get ready to start baseball activities, the organization is encouraging the youth of Sarasota County to do the same! Maybe not necessarily with baseball, but definitely in terms of getting active. (Especially since they essentially get summer weather year-round down there ...)
The Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge is returning Jan. 22 to middle schoolers throughout Sarasota County, with youngsters hitting the gym to learn about healthy lifestyles. Launched in 2016 in partnership with Sarasota County schools, Health Fit powered by Sarasota Memorial and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), the program teaches students about the importance of physical fitness, healthy eating and tobacco-free living.
During the five-week challenge, more than 4,500 students in grades six through eight will participate in a variety of health and fitness activities led by Sarasota County physical education teachers. Each participating student is eligible for two free tickets to the Orioles’ spring training game on Saturday, Feb. 24 at Ed Smith Stadium against the Twins. Each student also receives a voucher for $20 in food and beverage from the Orioles Fit Grill. Families of participating students may also purchase additional tickets to the same game for just $5 each.
Now in its third year, the challenge curriculum continues to be enhanced to emphasize tobacco-free living and better nutrition. The program was also expanded in 2017 to include Oak Park School, where faculty adapted the curriculum for students with special needs.
“The Health & Fitness Challenge is a fun way for young people to learn healthy habits that we hope will last a lifetime,” said vice president of Orioles-Sarasota David Rovine in a statement. “The Orioles are deeply committed to fostering the development of Sarasota County youth through this and other activities, such as providing free baseball clinics, promoting the Big League Reader program with Sarasota County libraries and supporting the Miracle League of Manasota.”
The Orioles’ youth programs in Sarasota are part of Sarasota 365, a host of initiatives through which the Baltimore Orioles and OriolesREACH demonstrate the ballclub’s year-round engagement with the greater Sarasota community. A recent independent analysis commissioned by Sarasota County government concluded that the Orioles generate approximately $89 million in annual economic impact back to taxpayers and residents. By marketing Sarasota to fans in the mid-Atlantic region, operating a year-round athletic training facility, producing entertainment and sporting events, partnering with charitable causes, and hosting and often subsidizing youth sports tournaments and activities, the Orioles demonstrate an abiding commitment to their Florida home that goes far beyond baseball. For more information, you can visit www.orioles.com/Sarasota.