Over the last eight weeks, children from the Eatonville Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida have gone through an extensive mentorship program put on by the Orlando Magic, Pepsi Stronger Together, and the Close the Gap (CTG) Foundation in an effort to learn valuable lessons about sport, leadership, and life.
The youth mentorship camp featured conversations with guest speakers about financial literacy, leadership, career opportunities, and other lessons for building healthy and productive lives.
Among those guest speakers was Magic guard Devin Cannady, who shared his inspirational life journey with the children.
So, it was only fitting that as the children celebrated their completion of the program on Monday, Cannady – along with other representatives from the Magic, the CTG Foundation, and the Boys & Girls Club – were in attendance for their graduation ceremony.
The impact of the program is evident. At the start of the camp, many of the children were shy and lacked the confidence needed to speak effectively in front of their peers. Upon their graduation, each child stood up in front of the room and accepted a certificate from Cannady, CTG co-founders Rich Baker and Clifton Smith Jr., and motivational speaker Dr. Javar Godfrey while shaking their hands and looking them each in the eye. Then, they turned to the audience and, with confidence and clarity, shared an aspirational goal for their future.
One of the many standout students in the program is 17-year-old Peyton Spencer (pictured in photo), who’s completed the camp for the second time. Now a leader for her peers, she’s displayed tremendous growth over the last year, especially when it comes to public speaking.
“Last year, I was very scared,” she explained. “Every time (they would call on me), I would be like ‘oh, no.’ But this summer, I saw myself like today, raising my hand with every question. Being more comfortable with my answers. I think that’s a big difference.”
Spencer has enjoyed a number of elements of the course, including life lessons from Dr. Godfrey and the financial literacy program with BankUnited. But among her favorite experiences were touring the Amway Center, attending a Magic career panel, and hearing from Cannady.
“I feel very special,” she said.
Now, Spencer and the other students in the program will have even more to tell their friends. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Cannady announced to the group that the Magic will host all the members of the camp at a game next season.
“It’s going to be a blast,” said Baker. “They grow up 10 minutes from the arena, but (many of them) have never stepped foot inside of it.