Water stations encourage healthy drinking
Sarah Ane, Welland’s community development and volunteer co-ordinator, fills up at the new bottle filling station installed at the Welland Main Arena as part of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Water Does Wonders program. Laura Barton/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network
Thanks to money allocated from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, Welland has been able to install four water bottle filling stations in public areas of the city.
The challenge is a provincial initiative to encourage children to get healthier while giving them the tools to do so. The second phase of the challenge was the Water Does Wonders campaign, featuring curriculum discussing the benefits of water over sugary drinks.
Sarah Ane, Welland’s community development and volunteer co-ordinator, said the city installed four water stations with the money it received: at both arenas, Plymouth Park and Market Square.
With these stations, it is hoped to reduce water bottle waste as well as encourage healthier drinking choices. The stations have a display on them which shows just how many plastic water bottles have been saved by refilling instead.
“It’s great for the environment for people to use a reusable water bottle,” Ane said.
Judith Rudoler, project manager for the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Niagara, said the provincial project budgeted money to the region for these water filling stations, totalling about $153,000 for 62 of them. That money was allocated to Niagara’s municipalities and school boards for the installation.
She said where the stations go is up to municipalities or school boards to decide, but generally they’ve gone to areas that didn’t already have one in place. Ultimately, they’re going “anywhere kids and families are going to be.”
“I don’t think everyone is as aware as they should be of how much sugar they’re having in liquid form,” said Rudoler.
She said even drinks such as juice have sugar contents that are much too high for children, even ones that have “no added sugars” written on the packaging.
She said the only safe choice is water or milk, so it’s about making those choices fun.
The Sip Smart! Ontario curriculum provided schools across the region with information and ways to discuss water consumption and the importance of it in the classroom.
Rudoler said one teacher in St. Catharines really put in an effort to make it as fun as possible by having different water recipes — adding different fruits and vegetables — each day and then voting on which one they liked best.
The Water Does Wonders curriculum is a pledge for parents to reduce access to sugary drinks and as a family choose the healthier choice of water. Parents acting as role models and supporting their children in the choice contribute to its success.