Students Help Design and Build Dream Playground

Trenton community works together to build a much-needed playground

The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids, a statewide program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is helping to build and strengthen community-based efforts for preventing childhood obesity across New Jersey. Together with the YMCA of Trenton and the Trenton Board of Education, the program helped lead efforts to create a safe new playground for students at Monument Elementary School in Trenton.

Monument’s principal, Bernadette Trapp, described the school’s previous playground as an empty broken blacktop that was dangerous for play. But the school lacked the funding to build a new facility until receiving a $20,000 grant for a new playground from Kaboom in 2011.

While the community worked to raise the additional $60,000 needed for the build, the students sketched out blueprints and voted on the best designs for their future playground. On August 11, 2012, more than 400 volunteers—city officials, the local fire department, parents, teachers, and students—worked together to build the new playground, which officially opened at the start of the school year this September.

The New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids is already looking ahead to broaden the reach of this success. The program is working with the YMCA of Trenton to set up an agreement between the school and the city that will open the playground to the community outside of school hours.

Currently, almost half of  Trenton’s children are overweight or obese. Unsafe sidewalks, heavy traffic, and lack of access to well-maintained parks make it difficult for many residents to walk, bike, or play outside.

In addition to its work in Trenton, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids also supports community-based efforts in Camden, Newark, Vineland, and New Brunswick. Learn more about the program.

Research Documents

Recess: A Win-Win for Students

Providing recess during the school day helps increase physical activity and improve academic performance among children.

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Quick Facts From This Study

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  • Providing recess breaks throughout the day can improve students’ classroom behavior and attentiveness
  • Children can accumulate up to 40% of their total daily physical activity during recess
  • Children at high risk for obesity are least likely to have recess

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