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Ballplayer Wants to Inspire Change off the Diamond


Michael Young became the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game in 1987 when he homered in the 10th and 12th innings to help his Baltimore Orioles beat the California Angels.

The now-retired ballplayer has his sights set on helping the next generation of kids lead healthier lives through his FLONation Foundation.  (FLONation stands for Fighting Lifestyles of Obesity.) Young is working with school districts and city officials across the country to establish educational programs that will teach students how to cook healthy meals and be physically active.

“Our children have gotten away from exercising, from being active,” Young tells the Inside Track. “They’re now living a sedentary lifestyle. We want to go back into the school districts, where it began for me, to encourage kids to move their bodies.”

Young and FLONation Foundation Executive Director Ashleigh DeFries are putting the finishing touches on the program now, he says, expecting it to be ready in “a month or so.” He’s already met with school districts in Northern California and a few in the Baltimore region, and expects to be working in schools in the coming months.

The FLONation program is designed to fit into schools’ current curriculum, teaching kids how to eat healthy and fit exercise into their day. FLONation will also maintain contact with students to ensure they have a chance to be successful, Young says, including by involving local dietitians, nutritionists and fitness professionals.

FLONation’s curriculum also can be tailored for businesses that are looking to implement wellness programs for their employees, Young says.

“We’re going to interact with everybody we come across,” Young says. “After we’ve gone in, we’ve sat down with them and we’ve created the excitement … we want to continue to follow up and find out how things are going.”

Young tells the Inside Track he was inspired FLONation  because he wanted to play a role in combating the epidemic. When Young talked to folks about obesity, he found that many people had a laissez faire attitude about it, with many shrugging their shoulders and saying, “It is what it is.”  

“When I hear people say that, it gets me upset, because they’ve accepted the fact that there is nothing that they can do,” he adds.

FLONation is working to bring movement, or flow, back to people’s daily lives. “When I think of FLO, you’re flowing, it’s emotion. In order to become healthier, not only are you supposed to eat right, you need to move your body. And if you’re moving, you’re flowing,” he says.

Young has seen firsthand how intervention can help children build healthy habits, recalling a cooking demonstration he attended in Northern California where local celebrity chefs crafted healthy meals for between 300 and 400 children. Young was blown away by the kids’ reaction, as many approached the chef afterward and asked how they too could become chefs.

“It was very exciting to see the kids embrace the whole thing,” he said. “Not only did they like the food that was cooked, they wanted to learn to how to make the food. … When I saw those kids and their eyes and their excitement that just prompted me to look at what we can do as a foundation.”