National Health Foundation’s Health Academy youth and community partners celebrated the youth’s effort to bring the first hydration station to a high school in South Los Angeles with a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, September 16 at Thomas Jefferson High School.
Health Academy youth were prompted into action after alarming results from their campus-wide survey showed that two-thirds of water fountains on campus were rated poor and/or inoperable by their peers. In addition, 60% of peers stated that therefore they did not drink water on campus and opted for sugary drinks instead. Youth worked closely with school administration to address this issue.
Students led an initiative to increase the number of students consuming water on campus by educating their peers and making changes to the school’s built environment with the goal of making water the healthy and easy choice. Health Academy students worked tirelessly to secure donations for the installation of a “hydration station” on-campus. Brita generously donated a hydration station unit and the students secured funding from Central Alameda and South Central Neighborhood Councils for the installation of the unit.
The new hydration station is a Brita touch-free surface mounted hygienic cooling water unit that will help keep students and the school community healthy and hydrated. By providing easy access to clean, safe water, the youth hope to improve water consumption for their peers and bring a healthy alternative to high sugary beverage options.
“Our goal was to encourage students, faculty and the school community to drink more water,” said Health Academy student, Joshua Guzman.
“The hydration station is necessary for students because it provides both easy access to a cool drink of water as well as the ability to fill their reusable water containers. The idea here is for Jefferson students to make drinking water a habit that will lead to a healthier lifestyle overall.”
National Health Foundation (NHF’s) Health Academy is an afterschool program at Thomas Jefferson High School that engages youth ages 14-18. The program empowers dedicated youth to lead initiatives that build community and stakeholder support for policy, system, and environmental changes that work to improve the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and opportunities for physical activity in the community. Funding for the program is provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health through a Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention grant, also known as Champions for Change.
“Working toward a healthier South Los Angeles, NHF’s Health Academy youth are at the forefront of efforts to reduce high rates of obesity and diabetes in their community. Youth are leading upstream innovative solutions to health challenges, as is the case with the youth-driven installation of a hydration station on campus” said Kelly Bruno, president and CEO of NHF.
“Other Health Academy youth-led projects are also positively impacting their community environment and supporting healthy living by leading the way in active transport, access to healthy foods, and policy recommendations for neighborhood modifications to increase outdoor greenspace”.