Triumph trumped tragedy at the dedication of a state-of-the-art driving simulator at West Orange High School to Nikhil Badlani, an 11-year-old West Orange student killed June 11, 2011 in a motor vehicle accident.
The Nikhil Badlani Foundation formed by Nikhil’s family, friends and community members with a mission to honor the memory of Nikhil by promoting traffic safety, and to help children pursue their dreams in music and academics, partnered with students from West Orange High School to participate in the Champion Schools Program, sponsored by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey.
“This simulator is going to help kids reduce accidents,” said Isabella Echeverria, a West Orange High School Freshman, friend of Nikhil and Foundation member. “It will teach kids about the dangers of distracted driving.”
Over the last three years, over 90 schools in NJ have developed teen driving safety programs as contestants in the program where driving simulators are awarded to two winning schools. With the financial assistance of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, students of West Orange High School submitted an interactive program on distracted driving to earn the coveted prize.
“It was an honor to meet Nikhil’s family, unfortunately under these tragic circumstances, and to work with the Badlani Foundation through our U Got Brains Champion Schools Program to provide this driving simulator to West Orange High School” said Wendy Berk, Brain injury Alliance Public Education Coordinator. “Research shows that practice driving can reduce teen driving crashes and West Orange High School students will now be able to use the driving simulator to gain valuable driving experience in a safe environment. Through this simulator, in Nikhil’s memory, West Orange teens will be safer on the road, and perhaps countless lives will be saved through the impact Nikhil has had on our community.”
“Nikhil will always be a Mountaineer, and part of the Mountaineer family,” said West Orange High School Principal Hayden Moore. “We are proud of our Mountaineer students today for this terrific accomplishment and we are proud of Nikhil.”
“This program can help kids be better drivers in the future and that’s always good,” said Logan Henley, a West Orange High School 9th grade student.
The Champion Schools Program is presented by The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey. Funding is provided by The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, with support from founding sponsor New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and platinum sponsors, The Allstate Foundation and DriveSafer.