Waiheʻe Elementary Unveils Water Bottle Filling Station
Waiheʻe Elementary School unveiled its new water bottle filling station at a student assembly this morning, promoting the benefits of healthy hydration through the Hawaiʻi 5210 Initiative.
The water station project, which has been installing water stations at DOE schools on Oʻahu and recently expanded to Maui, is led by Hawaiʻi Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education and supported by a community benefit grant from Kaiser Permanente.
“Mahalo to our community partners HICORE and Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi for their generous donation, which will help our students and staff implement healthy habits we’ve been teaching throughout the year,” said Lori Yatsushiro, Waiheʻe Elementary School principal.
More than 750 students from Waiheʻe Elementary learned about the benefits of healthy hydration today, at the event. The school’s new water bottle filling station is designed to promote smart beverage choices at school.
The water station, along with free water bottles provided to each Waiheʻe Elementary student, teacher and staff, is a coordinated school wellness strategy.
The “Wai at School” program, which began in 2015 as a pilot project on Oʻahu, allows schools to “earn” water bottle filling stations by adopting healthy policies, such as reducing or eliminating sugary beverages from their campus, and promoting healthier beverage consumption at school and at home. By expanding to Maui, it expects to benefit more than 20 public schools and thousands of students on the Valley Isle.
“By choosing water over sugary drinks, our keiki develop healthy habits that help prevent obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes,” said Dr. May Okihiro, pediatrician at the University of Hawaiʻi, John A. Burns School of Medicine and director of HICORE. “Our water bottle filling stations provide an easily accessible alternative to juice and soda that helps them make smart choices at school. Health education and policies at school will help support healthy beverage consumption by students and school staff.”
“At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that total health starts early,” said Mary Ann Barnes, RN, president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Hawaiʻi Region. “Teaching students about the benefits of staying hydrated with smart beverage choices like water helps them live healthier throughout their lives.”
To date, Hawaiʻi 5210 has installed water bottle filling stations in 28 schools, reaching more than 60,000 students in its promotion of healthy beverage consumption as part of school wellness policies. Plans are underway to install another 43 units in 35 schools, hopefully by the end of the year.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi, the first organization to partner with HICORE to lead the Be Well at School initiative, has donated more than $272,000 to the project since its inception in 2015.
Other components of the Hawaiʻi 5210 program include the promotion of a healthy diet and exercise, balanced with limited screen time. The program is named for the recommended consumption of five fruits and vegetables a day, two hours or less of screen time, one hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary beverages.
“I am ecstatic to see our community taking small, but important steps towards healthier lifestyles for our keiki,” said State Rep. Angus McKelvey (District 10 – West Maui, Māʻalaea, North Kīhei) Chair of the Higher Education Committee and member of the Education Committee.