Wednesday, March 1, 2017

St. Anthony Hospital, Public Health and Jeffco Public Schools Team Up to Keep Youth Hydrated

The pink water bottle Emmy Adams, a junior at Golden High School, carries around isn’t just a way to stay hydrated. It’s a chance for change.

Emmy Adams, president and founder
of the Golden High School Environment
Club fills her water bottle at one of the
school's new filling stations.
“I think that by having refillable drink stations, it helps people drink more water so much more because it is so much more accessible and easier to make the right choice in what you’re drinking,” said Adams, president and founder of the school’s environmental club. The club was instrumental in highlighting the need for water filling stations at Golden High School.

Water filling stations are just one way to encourage children and teens to drink more water and less of other drinks, like sugary beverages. Healthy Jeffco and its community coalitions, specifically the School Wellness Coalition and the Jeffco Sips Smart Coalition, are working to increase healthy beverage consumption through education and collaboration. Key partners in this effort include, Centura Health’s St. Anthony Hospital, Jeffco Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Health.

It is estimated that more than half of children in the U.S. don’t drink enough water. A national study published in June 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than half of American children are dehydrated at any time.

Thanks to the generous contribution from St. Anthony Hospital, eight Jefferson County public schools now have water bottle refill stations to help keep youth and staff hydrated. In addition, posters encouraging healthy beverage consumption were distributed throughout the schools.
Golden High School currently has two filling
stations, thanks to donations from Centura Health's
St. Anthony Hospital. The school also received
donations from other community organizations,
which means it will be receiving four additional
water bottle filling stations soon.

“Centura Health believes that high quality health happens in our clinics and in the community,” said Dr. Kimberly Bentrott, a Primary Care Physician with Centura Health Physicians Group. “This project is a great example of health happening in schools, and we are proud to be a partner of this work.”

Golden High School currently has two water filling stations, and thanks to donations from other community partners and the hard work of the environment club, four more are on the way.

“People definitely use it,” said Mike Mendoza, a teacher at Golden High School and the sponsor for the environmental club. “It’s just becoming the new norm.”

Drinking water has become a game for the students at Golden High School. Many of them carry around plastic water bottles and throw them in complicated flips to land on the water filling station sensor pad.

Shamik Bhat, a senior at Golden High School,
fills his water bottle in one of the two
new water filling stations at the school.
Some of them, like Emmy, even regularly check the LED display on the filling station to see how many plastic bottles have been saved. The first week after the stations were installed, Emmy said she checked each hour.

Not only do the water filling stations fulfill the Healthy Jeffco mission to ensure better access and education about healthy beverages, but they also support the Jefferson County Public Health Environmental Health Services goal of maintaining healthy environments. Water filling stations reduce plastic waste from water bottles and other drink containers.

“This planet is such an amazing place that we live in, and there’s just so much to explore and do, and it just makes me realize that you can’t do anything if you don’t have clean air to drink and clean air to breathe,” Adams said, smiling as she explained that her passion for the environment is what makes her want to advocate for sustainable changes, like the refillable drink stations. “My generation are the ones that are really going to have to take action.”

Emmy Adams, junior at Golden High School and president and founder of the school's environment club, fills her water bottle at one of the school's new water filling stations. Both of the school's stations have saved the environment more than 2,000 plastic water bottles. 

Photos by Nikki Work // Video by Tony Aaron Fuller

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