A Community Affair

What an amazing community we have surrounding us here in National Park! Since the inception of Project Greenway we have had the privilege of working hand-in-hand with community members like Annemarie Henry, Janet Butler, Jim Butler, K’Leen Cucugliello and Aimee Hart who have literally gotten their hands dirty with the students. We have had great support from Mayor Mark Cooper, Boro Administrator Josh Pitts and National Park Boro Employees Jimmy Walker, Jeff Baker, Jim O’Brien, Mike Girouard, Chuck Frew and Jeff Baker. And of course we continue to be so thankful for our relationship with Luanne Hughes at Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Brian Quilty at FoodCorps. These individuals have been instrumental in helping the fantastic staff of National Park School make Project Greenway such a success.

As we approach the summer months we are excited about the bounty that is sure to come from our garden. It will be a challenging time as we will need volunteers to help with the harvest. However, we have no doubt that volunteers will help our garden stay alive! We are looking forward to working with Cross County Connections to complete a community needs assessment. We will also have the much needed crosswalks installed near student dismissal locations to ensure safer passage home. A busy season for sure but an exciting time as we implement change!

A special congratulations to our logo contest winner 6th Grade student Steven Weller!

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Spring Has Sprung!

Project Greenway Update: We are so excited to finally see leaves budding, hear birds chirping and feel soil between our fingers. Spring has sprung and that means we are finally in planting season. After many long months of preparing the garden for vegetation, students have had the opportunity to plant a number of different vegetables. We also continue to enjoy cooking lessons with Brian Quilty, our friend from FoodCorps. As the weather continues to warm, our students will have the opportunity to participate in a walking program and will receive incentives for walking to and from school. We are also looking forward to our Health & Wellness Day on April 22 when we will hold a Community Garden Dedication Ceremony.

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Our Partners: There are many people to thank for helping make Project Greenway such a huge success. We are so grateful for their involvement and dedication to teaching students how to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
National Park Residents & School Employees- Borough Councilwoman Anne Marie Henry, Mayor Mark Cooper, Green Committee Members Janet Butler (and project photographer), Jim Butler & K’leen Cucugliello, National Park Public Works Department Jimmy Walker and Crew, Superintendent of Utility Department Jeff Baker and Crew, Parent Volunteer Aimee Hart, National Park School’s HASA, Gloucester County Community Service, Art Teacher Patti Rossiter, Health/PE Teacher Michael Hink and the amazing staff of National Park School who have committed instructional time to such a worthy project
Family & Community Health Sciences Rutgers Cooperative Extension- Luanne Hughes
Gloucester County Certified Gardeners- Mary Cummings
FoodCorps- Brian Quilty
Cross County Connection- Sean Schweitzer
Gloucester County Department of Health, Senior & Disability Services- Carla Kephart & Ryan Kennedy

Project Greenway Action Plan

Our gardens are under construction and we are busy preparing the land for the arrival of spring! In addition, we are taking a number of steps to make this project a success:

  • A school-wide assembly will be held to introduce Project Greenway. To encourage physical activity, students will walk laps around the perimeter of the school and will receive a healthy, garden based snack. A contest will be held in 5th & 6th grade Technology and each student will submit a logo design for Project Greenway. The winning selection will be used on all media relations, on all signage and will be made into a t-shirt design. T-shirts will be sold to support the project.
  • We will be meeting with a representative from Safe Routes to School to complete a School Travel Plan that will provide students with incentives for walking to and from school. The plan will help identify barriers and opportunities for infrastructure improvement around the school that facilitate bicycle and pedestrian travel, as well as guides municipality efforts in applying for the SRTS Infrastructure Grant.
  • Classroom-based lessons will include opportunities for students to learn about food/nutrition, gardening, planting and preparing, cooking and taste-testing foods. Professional Development will be provided for teachers regarding effective lessons. A mobile Cooking Cart will be available for staff members to use.
  • School-wide seed plantings will take place in classrooms, with transfer of plants to FoodCorps/Land Preservation greenhouses for spring planting in the community gardens.
  • Grade level meetings will be held to introduce and promote the NP Steppers Program. Each student will receive a chain necklace. Each time a student walks a mile (as certified by a parent or teacher), s/he will receive a charm for the necklace. In addition, each time a student participates in Walk to School Wednesday, s/he will receive a charm. Other incentives will be provided to encourage students to increase their walking- wear a hat to school, healthy lunch with the principal, healthy cooking lessons, etc.
  • Garden Dedication & Wellness Day- On Earth Day the coalition and partners will join together with the students of National Park School and community members to dedicate the Community Gardens. We will plan a Health & Wellness Day in collaboration with a wide array of allies to expose students to the many different ways to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • School district members will volunteer alongside community members to garden throughout the summer months. A weekly walking program will be offered to students to encourage being active throughout the summer.
  • Project Greenway Celebration- When students return to school in September, a school-wide assembly will be held to celebrate the accomplishments of Project Greenway.

National Park’s Project Greenway

Exciting news! National Park School has received $10,000 through the ShapingNJ Healthy Community Grant. We will use the funds to develop two community gardens and work with Safe Routes to School to implement safe ways for students to travel to and from school each day. We are privileged to work hand in hand with the National Park Boro, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, FoodCorps, Gloucester County Office of Land Preservation, Cross County Connections and Gloucester County Department of Health, Senior & Disability Services.

Our Mission: In response to increasing rates of childhood obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified several key health behaviors to prevent obesity, including increasing intake of fruits and vegetables and increasing physical activity. Recognizing that schools are ideal environments to foster healthy lifelong behaviors, the grant will aim to improve children’s health and academic performance by promoting better nutrition and physical activity in the school community. The project is a school wellness program that encourages an active lifestyle among the students and families of National Park Boro. It combines “edible education” with a variety of school wellness activities. To achieve these goals, we will develop two school/community gardens to help our residents eat healthier and use Safe Routes to Schools strategies to identify opportunities to increase bicycle and pedestrian activity.

Check out pictures of students working with our friend Brian Quilty from FoodCorps. The 3rd graders enjoyed a Kale Smoothie and the 1st graders planted our first vegetables for the Community Garden.

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Kale Day Handout

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Mark Your Calendar: The Garden Dedication is scheduled for Earth Day, April 22.