On May 11, Joyce McGarry, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension nutrition and food safety educator, was invited to visit Bath Elementary School in recognition of the school’s two new water-refilling stations donated by Delta Dental. She was asked to talk with 178 fourth- and fifth-graders on the important health benefits of water.
Joyce added visual demonstrations. With the help of student volunteers, she counted the number of teaspoons of sugar present in popular sports and flavored water drinks, and compared the results with water, which has no sugar.
Students also had the opportunity to share their knowledge of water and some of their own water practices. For example, one student said that as a treat, his grandmother allows him to drink pop at her house; otherwise, he only drinks milk and water at home. Having students reflect on their own experiences helps them to connect with what they learn.
At the end of the presentation, students were given water bottles that can be refilled throughout their school day. Joyce shared the importance of properly washing the water bottles on a regular basis to get rid of harmful bacteria buildup.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), providing drinking water to students helps to increase their overall water consumption, maintain hydration, reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and may help improve cognitive function. One important way that schools can make a difference is increasing students’ access to water, and allowing them to bring bottles of water to class. Bath Elementary School took it one step further, adding in water and nutrition education by partnering with Joyce and MSU Extension.
Joyce felt that this was an excellent opportunity to engage with the students.
“What a great day to share with great kids!” Joyce said.