WAILUKU, Hawaii — More than 750 students from Waihee Elementary School in Wailuku learned about the benefits of healthy hydration today, at an event which unveiled the school’s new water bottle filling station to promote smart beverage choices at school. The water station, along with free water bottles provided to each Waihee Elementary student, teacher and staff, is a coordinated school wellness strategy led by the Hawaii Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education - Hawaii 5210 Initiative, in collaboration with the Department of Education, and supported by a community benefit grant from Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.
“Mahalo to our community partners HICORE and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii for their generous donation, which will help our students and staff implement healthy habits we’ve been teaching throughout the year,” said Lori Yatsushiro, Waihee Elementary School principal.
The program, which began in 2015 as a pilot project on Oahu, allows schools to “earn” water bottle filling stations by adopting healthy policies, such as reducing or eliminating sugary beverages from their campus, and promoting healthier beverage consumption at school and at home. By expanding to Maui, it expects to benefit more than 20 public schools and thousands of students on the Valley Isle.
“By choosing water over sugary drinks, our keiki develop healthy habits that help prevent obesity and related conditions, such as diabetes,” said May Okihiro, MD, pediatrician at the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine and director of HICORE. “Our water bottle filling stations provide an easily accessible alternative to juice and soda that helps them make smart choices at school. Health education and policies at school will help support healthy beverage consumption by students and school staff.”
“At Kaiser Permanente, we believe that total health starts early,” said Mary Ann Barnes, RN, president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan Hawaii Region. “Teaching students about the benefits of staying hydrated with smart beverage choices like water helps them live healthier throughout their lives.”
To date, Hawaii 5210 has installed water bottle filling stations in 28 schools, reaching more than 60,000 students in its promotion of healthy beverage consumption as part of school wellness policies. Plans are underway to install another 43 units in 35 schools, hopefully by the end of the year. Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, the first organization to partner with HICORE to lead the Be Well at School initiative, has donated more than $272,000 to the project since its inception in 2015.
Other components of the Hawaii 5210 program include the promotion of a healthy diet and exercise, balanced with limited screen time. The program is named for the recommended consumption of five fruits and vegetables a day, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary beverages. Learn more at www.hawaii5210.org.
HICORE provides collaborative and multi-disciplinary leadership in research and education on childhood obesity, physical activity and nutrition in Hawaii. The Initiative is based at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and is the collaborative effort of academic and community partners in Hawaii. www.hicore.org
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has provided total health to the people of Hawaii for nearly 60 years, with physicians who are members of the Hawaii Permanente Medical Group, the largest multi-specialty physician group practice in the state of Hawaii. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. Visit kp.org for additional information. Become a fan of good health with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii: Like our page at Facebook.com/KPHawaii and follow @KPHawaii on Twitter.