Visitors to the St. Clements Arena and Hawkesville Community Centre can now enjoy state of the art hydration stations.
The addition of the hydration stations are part of theme-two of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC), ‘Water Does Wonders.’
The Waterloo Region is one of the 45 communities across Ontario taking part in the HKCC. The goal of the movement is to unite communities with the common goal of promoting children and their families health through physical activity and healthy eating.
The theme, ‘Water Does Wonders’, encourages children and families to choose water when reaching for a drink rather than sugar-sweetened beverages.
There are several initiatives across the region as part of the challenge to promote water as the beverage of choice including the implementation of the noted hydration stations and highlighting non-profit agency Blue W.
Blue W, a community-based program, helps people identify where they can easily find clean, free and public water sources to fill reusable bottles through their online mapping tool and smartphone application.
The stations provide water for bottles and to be used as a drinking fountain.
“It records and shows how many water bottles are not going to the landfill,” said Brad Voisin, director of recreation for Wellesley Township. “They also promote water to drink rather than sugary drinks.”
Wellesley Township received six hydration stations that will be strategically placed throughout township facilities.
Woolwich Township received funding for four new hydration stations, to be found at the Breslau Community Centre, Lions Park, St. Jacobs arena and beside the walking track at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.
“We wanted to make sure that they can be found in high profile areas where children are most prevalent,” said Ann McArthur, Woolwich’s director of recreation and facilities services.
The initiative is meant to increase access to free, appealing sources of water where children live, learn and play. The plan goes on to note that this theme was chosen because water is natural, healthy and a cost-free beverage choice containing no sugar, calories or added preservatives.
The first theme, launched in September of 2015, was ‘Run. Jump. Play. Every Day.’, encouraging physical activity through a mix of play, sport, active transportation and structured activity.
While ‘Water Does Wonders’ was launched last year, because of the seasonal setbacks the hydration stations are being implemented just in time for the third theme, ‘Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit,’ which, as the name suggests, is all about encouraging kids and families to eat healthier by making vegetables and fruits part of their everyday lives.
“The whole challenge has been really important, and it includes things that we couldn’t have done as a township alone without funding, such as the hydration stations. They are expensive units and they are expensive to install, but they are such a benefit to have access to water instead of unhealthy sugary drinks. It also is reducing the plastic that we are putting into our garbage every day,” said McArthur. “We are really fortunate to be able to benefit from that program.”
In the Waterloo Region, with only seven per cent of children and youth accumulating 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least six days a week there are one quarter of senior kindergarten students are at risk for being overweight or obese, increasing risk of chronic disease and premature death in adulthood.