Because schools are an environment where children spend a majority of their day, they have a unique opportunity to shape both academic success and student health. One way that schools can promote healthy living is by providing clean, safe drinking water and promoting drinking water over sweetened beverages. Having clean and free drinking water available to students during the school day promotes overall hydration, cognitive functioning, and prevents dental cavities, if fluoridated.
William Penn School District believes that both academic achievement and health are important for shaping the lives of their students and have taken strides in ensuring that their students receive healthy drinking options throughout the school day. As a result of funding from the Building Healthy Schools grant program, they have adopted a model that promotes, produces and encourages drinking water among students and staff.
Committed to changing the culture and environment around drinking water, the wellness council pursued activities and environmental changes that would allow students to access to fresh, clean and free water. A contest was planned for elementary school students to create a poster with healthy messaging around drinking water. The winning poster was displayed through-out each elementary school. The wellness council also spoke with building principals and administrators to help build a culture that promotes the necessity and health benefits of drinking water for all students. Also, water bottles were distributed to students to promote drinking water during the school day. Lastly, the district wellness council used grant funds to purchase hydration stations for elementary schools in the district. Once installed, these hydration stations allowed students to drink from clean and safe water fountains and also refill their own personal water bottles throughout the school day.
Through the support of the Building Healthy Schools grant, the wellness council successfully created a culture of wellness in the district that will continue to grow and support free, clean drinking water for students in the future.