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Bronx High School Students Celebrate the Installation of Three New Water Fountains

Bronx, NY (September 22, 2015) — Last week, Preston High School, an all-girls school in Throggs Neck, celebrated the installation of three new water fountains at a school-wide ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new fountains were installed over the summer, as part of a community-health effort led by the Partnership for a Healthier Bronx at Bronx Health REACH/Institute for Family Health.

Previously, the Preston High School fountains were old, broken, and only used by 8% of students. Recent research shows that over half of young people are prone to dehydration, which impacts overall health and ability to be physically active. Furthermore, when children don’t drink enough water, they are more likely to replace it with soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages, all strongly linked to obesity.

Student leaders, guided by the Active Design Toolkit for Schools published by the Partnership for a Healthier NYC, audited the school building last spring for green space, recreational opportunities, and access to healthy beverages. The results were clear: students identified an overwhelming need for more accessible water. Bronx Health REACH assisted the student leaders in developing and conducting a school-wide water-use survey.

Through the strong efforts of the school advocate, Sr. Patricia Warner, Executive Director of Preston Center of Compassion, the students’ dream became a reality over the summer break. Sr. Patricia Warner explains: “A dynamic committee of Preston High School students helped to identify the need for these state of the art water fountains; they came up with the research, a plan, and the implementation to make it happen. We had to overcome some serious obstacles, but with hard work, we accomplished our goal!”

Students were impressed that the new fountains were installed over the summer. One student remarked, “Water is so important! We’re all so excited that we don’t have to pay a dollar for water anymore. There was a line of girls waiting for their turn to use one of the new fountains, and the water tasted great!” Program Coordinator, Emily Oppenheimer commented, “Collaborating with students and staff at Preston was fantastic; the student champions are true public health advocates in the making. The water fountain project is a huge success for Preston HS, and represents an important step in cultivating healthy environments in Bronx schools.”

The benefits of the new water fountains are many. The new fountains, with their aesthetically appealing design, provide strong encouragement for students to drink water regularly at the school. The result is that the students will stay hydrated, and, hopefully, develop a lifelong habit of drinking water and less sweetened beverages.