The new initiative kicked off with a launch event at the school on Friday January 5th which was attended by Gold Heptathlete Seren Rodgers. At the event, Rodgers gave an inspirational talk to the children about her experience of winning Gold at the England U20 Pentathlon event in 2022, stressing the importance of staying hydrated with water and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
Children took part in a series of sporting activities delivered by Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP) as well as trying out fresh fruit-infused water with fruit donated by Morrisons Bridgwater. Children were also educated on the sugar in different types of drinks and the impact this can have on oral health.
Water Schools is an initiative to encourage children in Somerset to make water their drink of choice. In a Water School, water is the preferred drink for both children and school staff.
The initiative is based on three main principles:
- Pupils only drink tap water while at school.
- Parents do not need to provide drinks from home.
- Teachers encourage children to drink water during the day.
The initiative has a host of benefits to children:
- Water (hydration) is fundamental for attention, concentration, and memory therefore of key importance for children’s learning at school.
- Drinking water has a host of health benefits, supporting kidneys, bladder and bowel, improving blood pressure and heart health, and even supporting muscle and joint movement.
- Overconsumption of sugary drinks is one of the primary causes of tooth decay in young children, as well as representing a recognised risk factor for long-term diseases later in life.
Although some schools may have a ‘no fizzy drinks’ policy in place, if schools took on a school-wide ‘water only’ policy it would help young people to establish good habits early in life and ultimately reduce the risk of preventable health issues both in the short and long term. We are inviting schools who already have a ‘no fizzy drinks’ or ‘water only’ policy to make contact with our Public Health Healthier Lifestyle team to register their interest in becoming a ‘Water School’.
Helen Stone, Assistant Headteacher at Bridgwater College Academy School said:
It’s a New Year and often a time for developing new habits. At Bridgwater College Academy, our New Years resolution is to drink more water.
As teachers, we often see children struggling with toothache, unable to concentrate because they aren’t able to see a dentist for months, due to long waiting lists. By teaching the students the importance of drinking water, we want them to make healthy choices and drinking more water will aid their focus for learning, after all, knowledge is power.
Councillor Adam Dance, Lead Member for Public Health, Equalities and Diversity at Somerset Council said:
Overconsumption of sugary drinks is one of the primary causes of tooth decay in young children, as well as representing a recognised risk factor for long-term diseases later in life such as unhealthy weight, pre-diabetes, heart disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Water Schools is a terrific initiative to drive home the message about healthy water consumption and we would encourage all schools to take part. Water will help keep children well hydrated during the day as well as supporting their concentration and learning at school.
If you or your school would like more information on the initiative or to sign up to take part, please email the Public Health Healthier Lifestyle team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com.
There are also resources available on our Somerset Children and Young People website: Somerset children & young people: Health & Wellbeing : F2f Food Intro (cypsomersethealth.org)