Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge returns to Sarasota County middle schools

For the second year, the Orioles and Sarasota County Schools will team up to encourage physical fitness, healthy eating, and tobacco-free living among middle school-aged children through the Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge. Launched last year in partnership with HealthFit Powered by Sarasota Memorial and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), the program will expand in 2017 to include a greater focus on both nutrition and tobacco-free living, as well as more involvement from Orioles players, coaches, and alumni. The curriculum also will expand to Oak Park School, where faculty will adapt the curriculum for students with special needs.

Beginning today, the five-week Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge will be offered in 10 county schools for approximately 4,000 students in grades six through eight. Students will participate in a variety of health and fitness challenges, including exercises to build endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, and balance. The schools’ physical education teachers will present the challenge curriculum during regular school hours.

To enhance the program, this year’s challenge will include a stronger emphasis on eating healthy and avoiding tobacco. Each week, students will learn a recipe, provided by HealthFit, for a nutritious snack they can make at home with their families. Also weekly, the students will watch an informational video from SWAT about the dangers of tobacco.

Orioles Vice President-Sarasota David Rovine, pitcher Mychal Givens, bench coach John Russell, and former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will be on hand today at Laurel Nokomis School to launch this year’s program. Several additional Orioles players, coaches, and alumni will participate in the program this season, including manager Buck Showalter; Baseball Hall of Famer, Orioles Legend, and MASN broadcaster Jim; Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson; and pitchers Brad Brach, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Throughout the challenge, participating students earn Orioles-themed prizes and two free tickets to the Orioles’ Spring Training game on February 26. Participants also receive vouchers for complimentary concessions at the “Orioles Fit!” healthy-food stand at Ed Smith Stadium. For more information about the Challenge, visit www.orioles.com/oriolesfit. Students and parents are encouraged to share their experience on social media using #OriolesFit.

The Orioles Health & Fitness Challenge is 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. Whether hosting youth activities, participating in charitable causes, or partnering in efforts to boost the local economy, the Orioles are active in the region all year long, proving that their commitment to the club’s southern home goes far beyond baseball. For more information about the Orioles’ activities in Sarasota County, visit orioles.com/Sarasota.