The Little Rock School District Community Advisory Board has recommended that the state-controlled district adopt a policy ensuring water access for students.
The board is recommending that the district approve the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Water Access policy, which calls for all students to have access to water bottles in the classroom and for water bottle filling stations to be included in all schools that are newly built or receive major renovations. The district could become the first in the nation to adopt the policy, according to the AHA.
The AHA said Friday in an email announcing the news:
“Studies show when water bottle filling stations are installed in schools, students nearly triple how much water they drink at lunch time. AND the likelihood of kids in those same schools being at an unhealthy weight is greatly reduced. Drinking enough water may also improve a child’s performance in school and has been shown to help with reasoning skills and short-term memory. It can also help with visual attention and fine motor skills, making it easier for children to learn what they are reading.”
Obesity is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In Arkansas, 22.2% of school-aged children are obese. For more information about the AHA’s position on water access, read its 2015 policy statement, “Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water in Schools and Communities.”
Improving access to water in schools is also a goal of the Healthy Active Arkansas initiative, in which ACHI is a partner. The governor-endorsed initiative is a 10-year plan to increase the percentage of Arkansans at a healthy weight. It has nine priority areas, one of which is sugar-sweetened beverage reduction.
Last year, Healthy Active Arkansas, in partnership with the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation, selected 20 Arkansas schools ― none of them in the Little Rock School District ― to receive water bottle filling stations as part of the Rethink Your Drink: Choose Water grant program.