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Making it Easier for Kids to Drink Water at School

One way to help children cut back on unhealthy sugary drinks is to give kids more access to drinking water. That's the change that Petersburg School District made in schools across the Southeast community.

Petersburg School District — Replacing water fountains with water bottle filling stations

Petersburg School District — Replacing water fountains with water bottle filling stations

When Petersburg School District received a wellness grant, the staff got together to come up with ways to have a lasting impact on Petersburg children — even after the grant was gone. They noticed the schools' water fountains were getting old. Over the course of several years, they replaced all of them with fountains that could also fill water bottles.

The district installed three water bottle filling stations at the high school, two for the middle school, two for the elementary school, then two more for the gym area where the elementary students have physical education classes. Those filling stations gave students access to water no matter where they were.

Then the district went a step further. It gave a water bottle to every single student. That's about 450 students in grades K-12. They could fill up those water bottles throughout the day. They also could drink from their water bottles during class.

Petersburg School District — Replacing water fountains with water bottle filling stations

Teachers and staff at Petersburg schools noticed a change. Students are drinking water, not sugary drinks.

"The water bottle filling stations have changed the habits of our students," said the school's athletic director. "Our students bring their personal water bottles on trips and get disappointed when they get to other schools and they don't have water bottle filling stations."

Drinking water is encouraged in the cafeteria, too. Carlee Johnson, Petersburg School District's Food Service Director, is a strong believer in drinking water rather than fruit juice. She said fruit juice contains "empty calories" and encourages eating whole fruits and drinking water instead. Students can bring their water bottles into the lunch room. In Petersburg schools, pitchers of water also are available in lunch rooms, and that water is often made more appealing by providing slices of lemon or lime to flavor it.

Watch this Play Every Day video​ to learn about Petersburg's efforts to make water more accessible to students at school. 

This is what Alaska communities are doing to help kids grow up healthy. What can your community do? Click here to find more ideas to provide healthy foods, drinks and physical activity for kids.​​​​​