Water for the Win: 2020 Was the Year of H2O Policies in Schools
It’s no coincidence that 2020 was the year of H₂O. Through grassroots advocacy, ground softening and information campaigns, and collaborations at local and state levels, Voices for Healthy Kids helped make water policies in schools a priority for school districts.
“Water plays an important role in maintaining a child’s overall health,” said Lori Fresina, the vice president and executive director of Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association. “Water not only helps keep their growing bodies hydrated, it can also impact children’s short-term memory, improving their visual attention and fine motor skills.”
That’s why having access to clean, cool, no cost drinking water is a policy priority for the initiative. Throughout 2020, Voices for Healthy Kids supported campaigns across the nation with funding and technical assistance to advance water access in schools. As a result, two major water wins for students and staff happened in Arkansas and Mississippi.
The North Little Rock, Arkansas School Board voted to a water access policy that meets the best practice guidelines supported by the American Heart Association. This policy ensures all students have access to water bottles in the classroom and that all new schools and schools doing major renovations include water bottle filling stations on campuses.
And the Brookhaven, Mississippi School District approved a measure to allow students and staff to carry refillable water bottles on campus. Additionally, all new or majorly renovated schools will have water bottle refilling stations installed.
“All children, no matter where they live, should grow up with access to healthy, affordable foods, safe drinking water, and family-friendly places for physical activity,” said Fresina. “While our work is far from done, these two districts embody the strides we can make when we work together to make the health of children a priority.”