Students from across the south-west region are kicking their sugary habits for the sake of a happier life.
As part of a community initiative called South West Healthy Kids, schools are replacing sweetened drinks with tap water to promote the importance of drinking water instead of sweet drinks.
Warrnambool West Primary School is the first school to take up the challenge to become a water-only school and principal Phil Barnes is looking forward to the healthy change.
“It’s all about creating supportive environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” Mr Barnes said.
“We believe having only water in the classroom is a good way to encourage healthy habits among children.”
A survey of south-west school children showed that more than 75 per cent consumed sweet drinks, including juice, flavoured milk and soft and diet drinks despite there being no safe limit of consumption for children.
Water-only schools are encouraging students to consume only water during the day and refrain from bringing sweetened drinks and packaged snacks to school.
Mr Barnes believes the key to the program’s success is a commitment from all involved.
“When a policy discouraging sugary drinks and packaged snacks is enacted across the whole school, students are less likely to bring these to school,” he said.
The initiative includes staff from Warrnambool City Council, South West Healthcare and other not-for-profit organisations and is part of the larger alliance called Southwest Primary Care Partnership (SWPCP).
These health and community service agencies, together with Wannon Water, have partnered together to provide 4000 water bottles to participating primary schools.
Experts advise that choosing water over sweet drinks can reduce the rate of tooth decay in children, lower incidences of obesity and improve concentration and learning.
Schools interested can contact Lynda Smith on 5564 5807.