Traditionally, the Cool Water Program grant has covered the installation cost of new filling stations at 20 schools and provided toothbrushes and dishwasher-safe water bottles for all students and staff.
This year, though, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recommended that schools discontinue the use of shared drinking fountains. So, the Foundation decided to forego the water bottles and toothbrushes and fund seven more schools instead.
With more schools receiving the grant, each school will instead receive a small supply of water bottles for students in need.
“While the importance of drinking water has not changed, the current landscape of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how students can access water during the school day,” said Megan Tenpas, a community outreach specialist.
“This grant allows more Wisconsin schools to have a touchless water bottle filling station installed, which is so important in stopping the spread of germs and keeping students hydrated,” said Tenpas.
Drinking water, especially fluoridated water, helps reduce cavities and protects tooth enamel by washing away harmful bacteria, the Foundation said. Also, more than 50% of children and teens in the United States aren’t properly hydrated, the Foundation said. Benefits of adequate hydration include improved cognitive function, higher energy levels, and fewer headaches.
Additionally, the Foundation said, youth who drink water during the day are less likely to consume sugary beverages, and reducing sugar intake can decrease the occurrence of cavities and reduce obesity.
Selected schools include:
- Notre Dame School of Milwaukee, Blessed Theresa Campus (private)
- Maple Tree Elementary, Milwaukee (Milwaukee Public Schools)
- Riley School, Milwaukee (Milwaukee Public Schools)
- St. Joan Antida High School, Milwaukee (Archdiocese of Milwaukee)
- Hawthorne Elementary, Milwaukee (Milwaukee Public Schools)
- Vernon Elementary, Kenosha (Kensoha Unified School District)
- John Marshall Elementary, Wausau (Wausau School District)
- Grove Elementary, Wisconsin Rapids (Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools)
- Yeshiva Elementary, Milwaukee (private)
- Madison Elementary, Marshfield (Unified School District of Marshfield)
- Lincoln Elementary, Whitewater (Whitewater Unified School District)
- Lincoln Elementary, New London (School District of New London)
- Northwoods Elementary, Eau Claire (Eau Claire School District)
- Star Center Elementary, Lake Geneva (Lake Geneva Schools)
- Tomahawk Elementary, Tomahawk (Tomahawk School District)
- Whitehorse Middle School, Madison (Madison Metro School District)
- Spring Hill Elementary, Wisconsin Dells (School District of Wisconsin Dells)
- Iron River Elementary, Iron River (Maple School District)
- Mellen School, Mellen (Mellen School District)
- Marion Elementary, Marion (Marion School District)
- St. Joseph Academy, Milwaukee (private)
- Lincoln Elementary, Wausau (Wausau School District)
- Franklin Elementary, West Allis (West Allis-West Milwaukee School District)
- Humke Elementary, Nekoosa (Nekoosa School District)
- Good Shepherd Lutheran, Watertown (Watertown Unified School District)
- Horace Mann Middle School, Wausau (Wausau School District)
- Gordon L. Wilson, Baraboo (Baraboo School District)
Awardees were selected based on whether the schools had fluoridated water, a high percentage of students with free and reduced meals, and the sustainability and creativity of their implementation plans to encourage students to drink more water.
While many schools may look and operate differently this fall, the Foundation said, students and staff at these schools will have access to water filling stations when they are in the building.