It was a hot summer day in the Parramore neighborhood of Orlando when a group of about 30 school-age kids gathered in a grassy field outside of the John H. Jackson Community Center. They were excitedly waiting for the opportunity to race one another through the mini obstacle course set up on the field.
At the blow of the whistle, two boys tore away from the starting line and then leapt over and crawled under a series of wooden barricades. Then they climbed up and over a stack of hay bales, navigated their way across an agility ladder, carried a large log across the field together, and then dove into a mud pit set up on a bright blue tarp. Finally, they raced back to the starting point and took turns climbing a slippery rope. Their trainer called “time” and then sent another team through the course.
Over the past couple years, Savage Race has had the opportunity and privilege to partner with Downtown CREDO on this project. Downtown CREDO has “a mission to improve the quality of lives in our nation’s cities by cultivating networks of meaning, impact and community.” They do many things for the downtown Orlando area, and since 2011 have teamed up with local Boys & Girls Clubs of America for annual GetFit Weeks where they teach kids workout techniques and then host a fun obstacle course race to cap off the week.
This year CREDO held two GetFit Weeks, one for the Disney Boys & Girls Branch in Pine Hills and the second for the Downtown and Parramore Branches. “There are a lot of issues on the west side of I-4, lots of things that aren’t yet as they ought to be,” says Nicole Higgins, Rally Director at Downtown CREDO. “It would be easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed. Downtown CREDO challenges us to reject despair and engage problems knowing that we can make an impact for good. It’s with that in mind that we’ve put our stamp on this little club located inside the Coalition for the Homeless and the John H. Jackson Community Center.”
“They [the Boys & Girls Clubs] average about 75-80 club members. These are school-age kids ranging from kindergarten through high-school. Most of them live at the Coalition or in the surrounding neighborhood. The staff of the club are committed to helping these kids navigate a life of tough choices by giving them, ‘a moral compass.’ So we organize events, volunteer to teach classes, and pitch in wherever we can.”
Orlando, also known as “The City Beautiful,” is home to Savage Race and many of its team members. In fact, Savage Race was first run out of Downtown CREDO’s non-profit donation-only coffee shop. Savage Race co-founder Sam Abbitt would often sit in the coffee shop with samples of materials used to build obstacles, comparing them and planning for the future of Savage Race. In the meantime, he developed a friendship with Ben Hoyer, Director of Downtown CREDO, and has supported CREDO’s efforts in the community ever since.
Savage Race is proud to support Downtown CREDO in their efforts to encourage health and fitness amongst the young people at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Pine Hills and Parramore, and we are thankful for the opportunity to support our local Orlando community.
This summer’s first GetFit Week included community support from trainer Brandon Kelley, Kurtis Gunter from Lululemon Winter Park, CREDO Board of Steward Adam Barcott and Keiron Financial assisting during the obstacle course. Week two brought back Brandon Kelley and trainer Josie Kennedy, and for the obstacle course they were joined by Jack Elkins of the Orlando Magic (and CREDO Board of Steward) and Jed Stone of Grounding Roots who provided handmade cold-pressed juice popsicles for the participants. Thank you to everyone who supported these events!