By Sonya Hodges
Douglas County Health Dept.
Three years ago, the Ava community made a commitment to create more opportunities for families to eat healthy and be active.
Through a partnership with Missouri Foundation for Health’s Healthy Schools Healthy Communities (HSHC) initiative, we have made many positive changes throughout our schools and community. This includes providing in-kind match funds for the Safe Routes to School grant in order to build more sidewalks, building a walking trail at Skyline School and partnering with Ava School to add a fitness trail at the Middle School.
As part of this effort, sponsoring organizations are also working to help families and kids to drink plenty of water, which is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight.
Water is packed with lots of benefits for growing children. It helps improve cognitive function and energize muscles so kids can learn and perform better at school and on the field.
Increasing access to drinking water in the community is a priority as well. Across our community, we want everyone to Win with Water!
Skyline R-2 School has added water filling stations and provided water bottles for each student. Ava R-1 has also added water filling stations at all three schools –high school, middle school and elementary.
Last year, Ava provided water bottles for their students. Plainview R-8 School has also purchased water bottles for all their students. These additions will allow students to stay hydrated throughout the day.
These are just a few of many steps taken to encourage kids and community members to make water their first choice when it comes to drinks.
These changes are critical to the health of young children in the community. A good rule of thumb is to let thirst be your guide. The daily amount of water that a child needs can depend on their age, weight, and gender. Usually the range is about 5 to 8 cups of water per day. The list of reasons that you can win by drinking water is really endless, but here are three:
1. Tap water is free. Your family can save money by choosing water, especially when dining out.
2. Water doesn’t contain any calories so you can quench your thirst without added calories. (It can take over an hour to walk off a 12 oz. bottle of soda and almost two hours to walk off a 15 oz. bottle of juice!)
3. Water helps keep skin healthy and looking good. Not drinking enough water can make your skin look dry, flaky, and wrinkled.
There’s no question about it – water is a clear winner. And as a community, we have our work cut out for us. You can begin by setting a positive, healthy example for our growing children by choosing water with your meals and using refillable water bottles when you are on the go. Let’s teach our children what it means to Win with Water!
If you are interested in being a part of the Healthy Schools Healthy Communities collaborative, please contact Sonya Hodges, Community Coordinator, at the Douglas County Health Dept. at 417-683-4174.