What we eat and drink plays a large part in our health and wellbeing, so getting to the bottom of the school community's attitudes to wai has been a key focus for Healthy Families Waitakere.

The team are working with a number of schools to understand what children think about wai and what barriers exist for wai to become the preferred drink at school. 

An example of success has been addressing perceptions that water fountains are dirty and have poor locations within schools.  Waitakere College students have taken the lead to develop ideas to create a more appealing, water-promoting environment on site by gathering information which was then used as evidence in a presentation to the BOT to purchase a new water fountain and restore the current fountains.

The approach is drawing interest from a number of other local schools who are keen to implement student-directed initiatives around wai. Massey High School heard about Kelston Boys High Schools 100% Kelston 100% Tap Water campaign and 'Walk for Water' fundraiser and are looking at their school environment to encourage more students to drink water as the best choice.

We also secured funding from The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF) to provide water fountains in schools. This is the first time the Foundation have funded an initiative like this and Massey Primary School were the first to receive a water fountain from the fund. The school installed their new fountain in a location chosen by the students and with a mural created by their caretaker. Massey Primary School then put out a challenge to other schools to becoming pro-water. 

Te Kura Kaupapa o Hoani Waititi Marae took up Massey Primary School’s challenge and also recently installed their new fountain from TTCF. The school have since funded two more water fountains after seeing the benefits to their students. The students also wrote a haka on wai and will be performing their haka as a wero/challenge to other Kura and bilingual units around the country.

This initiative provides young people with an opportunity to understand and develop sustainable solutions to the issues around sugar sweetened beverages commonly found in our school communities.

Image: Massey Primary School students next to their new water fountain