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Getting the Facts in the Garden State

CC Cunningham is the blog writer and Program Manager for the Chris Klug Foundation.

Last week, I traveled to the sunny (though not so warm) Jersey Shore to attend the 2019 New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s annual conference. I know, it’s a mouthful. That’s why we colloquially call it the NJAHPERD conference. The gathering was in Long Branch, NJ right on the water with gorgeous views of the New Jersey coast. They don’t call it the Garden State for nothing! I got in on Sunday, February 24th and hunkered down in the CKF booth within the conference’s Exhibit Hall.

The actual conference started on Monday, February 25th, with teachers and future educators coming from all across the state to listen to esteemed speakers, take yoga and fitness classes, and learn the latest in health and physical education. These teachers had their hands full for the next few days: from learning innovative team-building exercises for their students to being taught new teaching methods to employ in their classrooms.

That’s where CKF comes in. We attended this year’s NJAHPERD conference to promote our own online educational curriculum, Toolkit for Teachers, which equips teachers with the tools (pun completely intended) they need to educate their students on organ donation. The majority of the conference’s attendees were health education, PE and driver’s ed teachers—many of whom already teach organ donation in their classes, but lack the structured curriculum that we offer through our Toolkit.

Over the course of the conference, from Monday through Wednesday, I talked to countless numbers of teachers, introducing them to our Toolkit as well as our Donor Dudes programs, which are available for their students to host at their own schools. It was such an exciting event, with the over 1,000 people attending the entire conference. I even ran into a familiar face—or, should I say, a familiar organization—the NJ Sharing Network! The NJ Sharing Network, or simply, NJ Sharing, is another nonprofit organization that promotes organ donation. By working with hospitals and transplant centers across the state of New Jersey, NJ Sharing helps to identify potential organ and tissue donors and connects them with compatible recipients. It was such a treat to talk with them and learn more about the fantastic work they are doing in the Garden State.

By Wednesday, over 30 teachers had signed up to receive the Toolkit for Teachers, with many requesting more information on our Donor Dudes programs for their students. It was such a rewarding trip for our foundation and we can’t wait to return!

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