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Thirsty for Health

Kids who drink water do better in school.  In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and teenagers be taught to pick water as their FIRST drink of choice.  “Thirsty for Health” is a three-year project facilitated by Oral Health Kansas through a grant awarded by the Kansas Health Foundation in 2015.  Chris Tuck, USD #345 Health Services Director, was asked to participate on the “Thirsty for Health” State Advisory Panel and our district was then selected as a participating district in the project’s three year pilot program.  The project is designed to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that will increase access to, and student consumption of, healthy beverages like water throughout the school day.
Key Messages for Students
  • Water is important for overall health
  • Fluoridated water prevents tooth decay in people of all ages
  • Water is the optimal beverage to quench thirst
  • Great health benefits when replacing calorically sweetened beverages with water
  • How to test tap water quality & safety
  • Drinking tap water instead of bottled water is better for the environment
  • Drinking tap water compared with other beverages will save money
  • Drinking water can contribute to good health, and schools are in a unique position to promote healthy, dietary behaviors, including drinking water.
  • Access to water will help increase the overall water consumption of our students to maintain their hydration, which will improve their cognitive function.
  • One of the most common “subjective” symptoms in the health room is “headache”, and a common cause for headaches is dehydration, which can be alleviated naturally with water.
  • Drinking fluoridated water at school will also play a role in preventing 
  • dental cavities.
Year One Accomplishments
  • Assessments of all school water fountains for benchmarking where water consumption can be increased, and to identify any problematic areas of water fountain function.
  • Receipt of a sugary drink display demonstrating the levels of sugar contained in popular beverages that has been utilized at several district wellness nights.
  • Educational materials and posters to assist with increasing awareness of the importance of water consumption.
  • Facilitation of student (SMS, SHS, LO, NHE), and community input (via surveys) to validate perceptions about drinking water, as well as the availability of water bottles for students to increase access to water during the school day.
  • Creation of a cartoon character “Sippy” to assist with social media campaigns and promoting importance of drinking water.
Goals for the 2017-2018 school year
1. Promote the consumption of water as an essential nutrient that plays a role in overall health.
2. Provide all students and staff with access to clean, safe, palatable drinking water free of charge at every school.
3. Promote drinking water as a substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages.
4. Allow students to bring drinking water into the classroom, provided that the water is in a capped container, such as a bottle to prevent spills.  
5. Increase number of water filling stations in schools.
6. Encourage all staff to model drinking water consumption.
7. Perform maintenance on all water fountains regularly, or as scheduled.