Collaborative 4-H and Nutrition project identifies why teens are not drinking water at school
What Has ANR Done?The 4-H and NFCS Advisors focused on the health benefits of consuming water in place of SSB’s as a strategy to support obesity prevention and long-term health. Promoting water consumption meant first identifying water access and the current beverage consumption practices at JSHS.
Using Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), we recruited six teens from the school to be our "partners" in the project - utilizing proven 4-H youth development practices of fostering teen leadership, citizenship, and life skills. An environmental scan of JSHS revealed that while there were eight water fountains throughout the school, some did not work properly and some did not have sufficient water flow making access to water a challenge. Recognizing the need for research-based information to address this issue, the teens developed a survey to assess students' beverage consumption habits and access to drinking water at school. They collected and analyzed data from 320 students, a 57 percent response rate.
Student leaders identified barriers and shared benefits of increasing water consumptionThe survey data revealed that although 90 percent of students said water was their first choice of beverage and 66.8 percent of students have a reusable water bottle, the average reported daily water consumption was less than the recommended amount, 4.92 cups versus 8 cups. This is because 61.5 percent of the students reported not drinking the water provided at school and instead bring water from home. The top reasons students gave included a perception that the water in school was unsafe, had an undesirable taste, and was inconvenient to access. Armed with this new information, the 4-H teens created an infographic to convey the findings schoolwide, displaying it in the main school hallways and during events, reaching 400 teens. They also shared their findings with the school site council and school board and advocated for water filling stations for their school.