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Trenton’s First Healthy School Inaugurates Its Cool Cafe and New Playground

September 13, 2012 | Trenton

Flanked by school children, fire fighters, community volunteers, funders and government officials, Principal Bernadette Trapp cut the red ribbons on Monument Elementary School’s new playground and Cool Café on September 12, 2012. The event symbolized a new era of healthy living for the nearly 500 students who now will have better access to healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity.

NJPHK-Trenton and the Greater Trenton-Area YMCA are major partners in the building and planning of the new playground as a part of the school’s Healthy Initiatives program. Partnerships with NJPHK-Trenton and ARAMARK Food and Nutrition Services, enabled the school to introduce healthier meal options for students.

“Monument was chosen as the Healthy Initiatives pilot school because Bernadette Trapp demonstrated genuine interest in the health and welfare of her students and strong determination to find the funding that could create a safe place to play,” said NJPHK-Trenton Project Manager Marissa Davis.

The Cool Café and playground are two important milestones in the school’s efforts to create a healthy school environment and help prevent childhood obesity. The upgraded cafeteria features a salad bar with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and a Grab-n-Go breakfast program to ensure students begin their day with a healthy meal. The playground of brightly colored slides, and gym equipment went from students’ designs to actual structures when more than 400 community volunteers participated in a build day on August 11. The playground complements the school’s “All About ME” (Motivation to Exercise) program. The school also formed a Wellness Council to oversee and support its efforts to create and maintain a healthier environment for students.

In further efforts to improve the environment, NJPHK-Trenton was instrumental in the planting of seven baby elm trees (through a grant from Trees for Trenton) to line the street in front of the school and the playground.

Sam Frisby, CEO of the YMCA, Mercer County Freeholder and Co-Chair of NJPHK-Trenton, credited the playground and cafeteria to an “eclectic group of people who made this happen.” Acknowledging the work of the volunteers, Trapp told assembled guests, “They all came together to realize a dream and give our children the same opportunities as children in suburban areas.”

Trenton Public School District Superintendent Francisco Duran spoke about the importance of a healthy school environment as a key influencer in a child’s development. “It’s not just about what takes place in the classroom,” Duran said. “It’s about the interaction in the playground and the cafeteria and the role models they see in the community—the volunteer fire fighters and others who helped build this.”

Darrin Anderson, deputy director for NJPHK and the YMCA State Program Office, said NJPHK aims to replicate the achievements of Monument Elementary in other New Jersey communities.

School Partners of the Monument Healthy School Pilot include: NJPHK-Trenton, the Greater Trenton-Area YMCA, ARAMARK Food and Nutrition Services, the State Department of Community Affairs and KaBOOM!

SIDEBAR: Janssen Closes Gap with $10,000 Funding for Playground at Monument Elementary

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company, provided the balance of the funding needed to complete the playground at Monument Elementary. The full list of donors is shown below:

 Chickie & Pete’s 


Janssen Pharmaceuticals


Mercer County Cancer Coalition

Monument Elementary School

NJPHK-Trenton and Steering Committee


Union Baptist Church

Yardley Methodist Church

In kind donations

Ewing Home Depot (tools)

Heath Lumber (discounted wood)

Pool Boys (cement)

ShopRite (healthy snacks)

Trees for Trenton (sidewalk trees)

YMCA State Alliance (t-shirts and photography)

YMCA of Trenton (paint)

Countless other volunteers

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