The Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., is a 120,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. Jets owner Woody Johnson made the decision to give the Green & White the best possible supplies, equipment and amenities.
In turn, the Jets are trying to do the same for students in the local area. On Tuesday, executive vice president Matt Higgins and five Jets players visited the P.G. Chambers School in Cedar Knolls to donate new high-tech school equipment.
"I know I never had anything like this growing up and it would have been a huge, huge help," guard Matt Slauson said. "So I think it's just great how these companies and the Jets have come together and partnered up and donated all of this. It's just amazing."
Teq and FrontRow provided two Satalight Learning Stations, a SMART Board and four Lasso Sound Systems to the special-needs school in which a highly academic and diverse curriculum is taught. Susan Seamans, the executive director of the school, was all smiles as the players filled her classrooms and her students with delight — and also offered helping hands in delivering the new technology.
"It makes a huge impact," Seamans said. "I think we saw a little bit of that today. When students have technology that allows them to be active learners and not just passive recipients of information, it builds their confidence. They get up in front of the screen and they're really interacting with both their teacher and their fellow students in learning the lesson."
Seamans was especially grateful for the relationship the school has developed with Higgins and the Jets, who visited P.G. Chambers for the first time in 2009 during a Hometown Huddle event. The Green & White had such an amazing time, they have decided to come back every year.
This week's outing followed the Jets' 9-0 loss to the Packers. Coincidentally, that first trip followed a tough loss to the Saints. To Higgins, both visits were wakeup calls for the team about the important things in life.
"I always hear the same thing from players when they go to an event like this: 'Boy, that puts it into perspective,' " he said. "Football is just a game at the end of the day. This is real life. They always come and walk away, they're moved, and they're excited to be a part of it. You see the guys are touched and you'll see they'll spend a lot of time here."
Using the new technology and demonstrating all of its uses and incredible capabilities, the Teq and FrontRow staff were able to impress the students with all of the ways in which they'll now be able to learn. One player who was particularly involved and engaged was rookie running back Joe McKnight. He was seen interacting with a number of the students during a group game of "Jetpardy" in which students answered Jets-related trivia questions.
"It means everything just to come back to special-needs schools like this," McKnight said. "It really puts everything into perspective and makes me want to go out there and fight for everything that I want to do and accomplish the things that I want to do because these kids in here are fighting for everything. These kids are fighting every day, so why can't I do it?"
Coming off of the team's second loss of the season, the stop at Chambers may have been the extra bit of motivation and inspiration they need. To linebacker Jamaal Westerman, meeting the children, helping move the equipment into the building and playing with the kids was an experience that made him reflect on how many ways the Jets impact the community.
"As an organization, as a team, I think we all know we're so blessed to be in the positions that we are," Westerman said. "To be able to give back a little bit and put a smile on a kid's face and help them do something we all want to do, which is learn, and through the new technology and SMART boards, it's good for us, it's good for them. It's a win-win for everybody."
This has been an especially chartable week for the Green & White, who hosted four different events on Monday night and a number on Tuesday as well. From the top down, the Jets are dedicated to giving back to local communities and to ensuring that those less fortunate can experience a positive impact from the organization.
"We're blessed to work for an NFL team," Higgins said. "The biggest way in which we're blessed is that we get to leverage the team to help other people and that's because of Woody Johnson. He gives us the free rein to go out there and make a difference any way we see fit."