Recently, the Bryant School District was awarded a Healthy Active Arkansas' Rethink Your Drink: Choose Water! grant to install bottle filling stations at five schools. To celebrate the grant, Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe attended a press event Wednesday at Bryant Elementary School.
Bledsoe addressed attendees about the importance of preventive care.
"Getting it into the minds of our students that they need to be drinking water more than anything is really important," Bledsoe said.
The Healthy Active Arkansas Rethink Your Drink: Choose Water! grant program is designed to encourage students, teachers and staff to drink water instead of sugary drinks during the school day, which helps support oral health and a healthy weight. The program is funded by the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation.
Since 2018, Healthy Active Arkansas and Delta Dental have worked together to promote and encourage schools to drink water instead of sugary drinks through the program. During the 2017‒18 school year, the Rethink Your Drink: Choose Water! program encouraged students, faculty and staff to drink nearly 60,000 20-ounce bottles of water. Healthy Active Arkansas has funded 70 water bottle filling stations over the past two years. This year, Healthy Active Arkansas received more than 145 applications and a wish list for 452 filling stations.
Angela Lasiter, Hornet Health Center coordinator, was the person responsible for applying for the grant.
She began researching a grant to provide bottle filling stations after a Bryant Elementary School employee requested a station.
"We struck gold," Lasiter said.
Bottle filling stations were installed at Salem Elementary School, Bryant Elementary School, Collegeville Elementary School, Springhill Elementary School and Bryant Middle School.
The district is in search of another grant to provide even more stations.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Walters told the crowd that as the district constructs new buildings such as Bryant Junior High School and Parkway Elementary School these stations are added. The stations are also already located at Bryant High School.
Along with these stations, school nurses across the district are encouraging students and staff to drink more water.
They have placed boards telling information about the importance of drinking water at each schools and give presentations in classes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, water helps the body keep your temperature normal, lubricate and cushion joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues and get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements.