Fifty-five Illinois schools will receive new water bottle-filling stations to encourage students to drink more water as part of H2O On the Go, a grant program started last year by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation.
Recipients include six schools in the Metro East region — Calhoun Elementary School in Hardin; St. Mary’s School, Leclaire and Nelson elementary schools in Edwardsville; Roxana Junior High in Roxana and South Elementary in South Roxana.
H2O On the Go provides greater access to drinking water for Illinois students and encourages them to choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, juice and sports drinks. Illinois elementary, middle and high schools selected for this program will have existing water fountains replaced with new water bottle-filling stations. The schools will also receive toothbrushes and reusable water bottles for their students.
Tooth decay – though quite preventable – is the most chronic disease among children. Drinking fluoridated water instead of unhealthy, sugary beverages keeps teeth strong and can reduce cavities by almost 25%. Water consumption can also help reduce obesity, increase energy levels and improve students’ attention span and ability to learn. The new water bottle-filling stations are also touch-free, decreasing germ exchange.
“With our H2O On the Go program, we make it easier for Illinois students to drink water in an effort to improve their oral and overall health,” said Lora Vitek, executive director of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. “Drinking more water means students will not only stay hydrated but they’ll reduce their sugar consumption, improve their diet and lessen their chance of tooth decay.”
The Foundations launched the program last December, announcing that 85 Illinois schools would receive water bottle-filling stations. Continuation of the H2O On the Go program this year brings the total to 140 Illinois schools that will receive water stations supplied by Downers Grove-based Elkay and funded by Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation and Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation. Besides providing healthy drinking water, the water bottle-filling stations help reduce waste and promote conservation efforts.
“The Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation is thrilled to continue this program and install these water bottle-filling stations in schools across our state,” said Heather Higgins Alderman, the Foundation’s president. “Encouraging children to drink more water and making it more accessible to do so helps reduce cavities and leads to better overall health and well-being.”