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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017 1 year ago

It’s all health and games

Kids at the Boys & Girls Club in Eatonville get active in the RDV Sportsplex Summer Fit Program.
by: Troy Herring Sports Editor

Every Wednesday throughout the summer, it’s something a little bit different.

Games of kickball and basketball are mixed up alongside yoga and cycling classes in the span of an hour.

And the kids love it.

In collaboration with the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, the Boys & Girls Club in Eatonville has been participating in RDV’s Summer Fit Program since last year.

When the program launched, there were actually only about eight or nine kids involved, said Khadesia Brown, program director at the Boys & Girls Club in Eatonville. Since then, there has been much more active participation in the program.

“Especially in the summer, we have seen it grow,” Brown said. “We have grown throughout the year — sometimes it’s 15, some times it’s 20 — but this summer, they really, really want to go. I’d see an influx of middle-school kids wanting to go get engaged. Also, a lot of our kids are electronic-based, and to see them go and want to be active is big.”

Middle- and high-school participants often take a bus to the RDV facility each week, where they work with instructors in a variety of different physical activities — from sports to Zumba.

The summer program is technically year-round and is divided into spring, summer and fall sessions. 

And although the program at the Boys & Girls Club is relatively new, the relationship with RDV isn’t. Since 1998, RDV has been an active partner of the Boys & Girls Club — raising more than $150,000 in donations, said Jean Kingsford-Shawgo, regional marketing manager at RDV Sportsplex and MVP Sports Clubs and the architect of the RDV program.

The inspiration came to Kingsford-Shawgo when she was trying to develop a health program to help get kids active. 

“ … a lot of our kids are electronic-based, and to see them go and want to be active is big.”


— Khadesia Brown

“We have always looked for creative ways to be able to help them,” Kingsford-Shawgo said. “The incidence of diabetes and obesity in the Eatonville area is higher than the nation average, and so we thought that if we were able to teach even one child the importance of getting fit, as oppose to sitting behind a screen someplace, then we are going to make a big difference not only in her life, but also in our community.”

Kingsford-Shawgo acknowledged it can be hard to get kids up and moving, but like Brown, has seen growing interest in the program.

The idea of having fun and being entertained while getting into shape is something that the program tries to balance with each class, and it seems to be working well.

“It’s going awesome,” said 12-year-old Elisha McIntyre.

Eleven-year-old Leah Grant concurred. 

“It’s really, really fun, because we get to do different stuff each time,” she said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to go ice skating, and then we played kickball last week.”

Chenea Henson, 13, summed it up succinctly, saying that the program was entertaining.

The progression of the program as a whole has come as a welcome addition to the Boys & Girls Club by everyone at the facility. 

Richard Yount, development officer for the Boys & Girls Club in Eatonville, said the program fits perfectly into the club’s desire to help better kids’ lives, especially because it relates to getting in better shape.

“Staying fit, being healthy, and making good choices in your life and lifestyle — so they learn about that,” Yount said. “It helps to have RDV provide us with a facility where they can go and they can have a place that’s special, where they can work out and exercise and start to develop some of those practices in their life.”

Troy Herring is the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Mount Olive (BS '12) and the University of Alabama (MA '16)....

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