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A cool drink of water can be satisfying in the simplest way: It just feels good for the body. It turns out water is just as good for the brain, too!

Even so, access to clean drinking water is not always given the importance it deserves. Many schools have only a few drinking fountains to serve hundreds of students as well as teachers and staff. Existing fixtures may be rusted or broken, and often produce warm, unfiltered water. Long lines for poor-tasting water? Forget it.

Water access for students, teachers and staff in the school environment promotes healthful behaviors and supports adult role modeling of healthy beverage choices.

Why Water?

Hydration is crucial to support normal bodily functions, but the benefits of water go beyond that. Drinking more water has been shown to:

  • help keep students focused and ready to learn
  • help prevent dental cavities
  • prevent unwanted weight gain when consumed instead of sugary beverages
  • provide an opportunity for staff and teachers to model healthy behaviors for students

Water is so important that all schools participating in the federally-funded National School Lunch Program are now required by law to make free drinking water available to all students during meal times, wherever those meals are served. However, research shows that many students are still not meeting daily recommendations for water consumption.

Making tasty water easily accessible also encourages consumption of health beverages over sugar-sweetened beverages that contain added sugar and calories.

Building on existing resources, Thriving Schools seeks to improve water access for students, teachers, and staff in the school environment.

Learn More About Drinking Water Safety

Kaiser Permanente partnered with the National Drinking Water Alliance to create a series of factsheets and a 3-part webinar series to help schools learn about importance of drinking water and how to provide it safely and effectively.

Get started improving water
consumption at your school

Start increasing water consumption among your students, staff and teachers with some of these simple steps.

Improve the taste

  • Water should be clean and chilled
  • Infusing water with fruit can make water more appealing

Provide drinking containers

  • Provide reusable water bottles or cups to increase water consumption
  • Seek water bottle donations from local companies
  • Sell reusable water bottles at the Student Store
  • Use see-through water bottles

Increase awareness of accessible water

  • Ensure students, staff and teachers are aware of water access locations and promote utilization
  • Advertise water stations around your school and promote consumption with posters
  • Encourage creativity and involvement by holding an artwork or slogan design contest, and provide an incentive/reward for the winning student’s class, such as 30 minutes of extra playground time

Educate on importance of water

  • Did you know? Water intake among students increases when access to new water dispensers is paired with education
  • Water Works provides easy to use resources to encourage water intake in schools, including a list of free activities, lesson plans, and curricula for a range of grade levels
  • Drink Up! is dedicated to working across public and private sectors to encourage everyone to drink more water. You can use their social media hashtags to promote drinking water in your community

Want to improve access to clean,
appetizing, free drinking water?

Installing water stations in your school is an excellent way to ensure access to fresh, cold, clean water for students and staff throughout your school.

To install a station, follow these key steps:

  1. Identify optimal location for water stations
  2. Test water quality & choose appropriate filtration
  3. Assess infrastructure and/or installation needs & costs
  4. Ensure compliance with federal, state & local water access laws
  5. Select & purchase water stations
  6. Announce new water locations and raise awareness around water consumption

Things to consider

  • Include language about water stations in your school’s wellness policy
  • Identify a water champion on your school’s wellness committee
  • Involve principals, district plumber, district electrician, facilities and maintenance staff early on in the planning process; and involve students in planning and promoting new water stations
  • Place water stations in central locations, such as the cafeteria, gymnasium, or auditorium

More Water Resources

A useful toolkit on increasing water access in schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A collaborative dedicated to working across public and private sectors to encourage everyone to drink more water. You can use their social media hashtags to promote drinking water in your community

Detailed information about how to begin a increasing water access, including how to assess your school’s specific water needs

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