SHAPENJ 2022 Conference

The whirlwind of SHAPENJ’s 103rdconference is over for me. It started early on Super Bowl Sunday. A handful of dedicated people showed up before the convention in order to get the registration booth organized, set up the convention hall, and do the other million things that need to be done at the last minute. 

Once this was done we were able to breathe and get ready for the Super Bowl! The game was awesome and the people were even better. A crooked pool table wasn’t going to ruin the night for us!! Once the game was over it was time to get ready! 

Monday morning came way too quickly. I was able to shove some food and drink down my throat and then was ready to hear the keynote and start the day! Kevin McGrath was the keynote speaker. As an aside, all I want from a keynote speaker is someone who can allow me to laugh, allow me to cry, and give me one actionable thing to do in the future. It is no small feat. Kevin did all that and more. His story is amazing and I can’t wait to get him on the Shapes of Identity podcast! What Kevin is doing is amazing. It is truly a story of love for humanity. 

Adopt-a-Gym is a “by kids, for kids” fundraiser where schools raise funds to purchase physical education equipment for other schools that are short on resources to purchase adequate equipment for themselves.” 

KEVIN get no financial compensation out of this fundraiser! That is the true definition of agape (selfless love). Check out more about his project here. You can follow Kevin on the Twitter @AdoptAGymKM. 

The sessions were amazing as usual. There were so many health and physical education sessions that I was able to create a smorgasbord of professional learning to suit my soul as well as my profession. Candace Young, Brian Devore, John Jones, Victor Spadaro, Dan Rice, Mike Kuczala, Nick Kline, Thomas Gelardi and so many more presented fantastic sessions. 

One particular session that touched my heart was the Attitudes in Reverse program. Tricia Baker story and delivery were engaging and informative. It was both heartbreaking and encouraging to hear her story and learn more about suicide prevention.

“Attitudes In Reverse’s (AIR’s) mission is to create a community of understanding, kindness and empathy through mental health education and awareness. AIR offers many programs that, when combined, remind students throughout the year that there are many people, perhaps their friends, family members or classmates, who may be living each day with mental health disorders. We must always be kind – no matter what people’s differences are. We must understand that NO ONE CHOOSES to have a mental health disorder.

AIR strives to provide unlimited mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs to youth and young adults, regardless of their ability to pay. AIR aims to inspire hope for those suffering from mental pain to seek assistance while instilling empathy and understanding of mental health disorders throughout society.”

I would highly recommend you go to their website for programs and resources to teach in your health and physical education programs.  Also, there were dogs. Everyone wins when dogs are involved! 

Heath Moves Minds was in full effect! The booth was rocking and the information was readily available. Most importantly our students will benefit socially and emotionally! Learn more about them here

My final thoughts focus on relationships. Conferences are about information, participation, and most importantly relationships. Over the course of 15 years, I have gotten to know so many educators. This allows the conference to morph into reconnecting with old friends as well as learning. SHAPE NJ does a great job of fostering community by creating FREE events for the people who stay there. Monday night they had a bonfire on the beach and Tuesday night they have a band and the exhibitors bring their games to play. It is hard to leave our obligations in life I get that. And part of nourishing the soul is connecting with others. I highly recommend this conference to all educators. 

Glow: Free food. Breakfast and lunch were covered! The food was amazing. So many healthy options. Oh and free coffee!

Glow: Kevin Mcgrath. Nuff said

Grow: It’s been five years since the left hotel door entrance worked!! Cmon man!

Glow: Therapy Dogs

Glow: Bonfires and Bands

Glow: Judy Lobianco. Her energy and passion are unparalleled. We are going to miss her next year.


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