The Arkansas State Capitol now has two water bottle filling stations, thanks in part to the efforts of a Conway High School teacher and her students.
Leslee Tell, advanced nutrition and dietetics instructor at Conway High School, said the project began when she was attending an event at the Capitol with her students in the school’s Healthy Cats Nutrition Program and the students discovered there were no filling stations for their water bottles.
“We went back to school and we brainstormed, and we contacted the Secretary of State’s Office and asked if there was any way that we could get a water bottle filling station,” Tell said. “They seemed interested in having students present, so we had three girls that came and did a presentation to the Secretary of State’s Office, and it seemed very favorable. Then it kind of went up the chain of command at the Capitol.”
Tell, a group of Healthy Cats students, and officials with the Secretary of State’s Office attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Sept. 17, for the stations, which the Secretary of State’s Office had installed earlier in the summer. One of the stations is in the hallway that extends west from the first-floor rotunda, and the other is just outside the cafeteria in the basement. Cutting the ribbon was Conway High School senior Jayla Williams, one of the three students who made the original presentation in support of adding water bottle filling stations at the Capitol.
The stations support the priorities of the Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) initiative, a 10-year plan to increase the number of Arkansans at a healthy weight. HAA has nine priority areas, including healthy worksites and sugar-sweetened beverage reduction; the stations make the Capitol a healthier workplace by making it easier for people to choose water over sugary drinks.
The stations also support the goals of the Healthy Cats program and the Capitol GO! Healthy Hydration Challenge, a competition ACHI has sponsored at the Capitol to promote consumption of non-sugar-sweetened beverages. ACHI is a partner in HAA.
ACHI assisted in Tuesday’s event and presented Tell and her students with complementary water bottles to celebrate the occasion. The students also took part in a wellness fair Tuesday at the Capitol, where they made and handed out healthy smoothies.
For more information about the Healthy Cats Nutrition Program, see our Healthy Active Arkansas case study.