MUNDY TOWNSHIP – Morrish Elementary School third-grader Carolyn Wistuba knew there had to be a better way to fill water bottles at school.
“She had spilled water all over the hall while trying to fill up her water bottle at the drinking fountain,” said Stephanie Lang, art and technology teacher. “While we were cleaning it up, she asked how we could get new water fountains.”
In a serendipitous turn of events, the newsletter from the Michigan Education Special Services Association, which Lang received a couple days later, included a story on a Delta Dental Foundation grant for new water fountains in schools.
Carolyn and classmates Layla Hartington and Reese Redlich produced a video to submit with a grant application in October. In February, they learned that, as a result of their efforts, Morrish Elementary is one of 61 Michigan schools receiving new water fountains/ bottle filling stations.
In addition to two water stations, Morrish Elementary will receive water bottles for every student and staff member.
“The hope is to promote more hydration and encourage kids to drink more water,” said Lang.
The grants are part of a $200,000 MESSA/DDF partnership entitled, “Rethink Your Drink: Water’s Cool at School.”
“Drinking water throughout the school day is key to staying focused and energized,” said Teri Battaglieri, Delta Dental Foundation director. “Not only are sugar-sweetened beverages like pop and juice drinks bad for your teeth, they can contribute to other health issues such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. We want more students to have access to drinking water during the day so they can keep their teeth and bodies strong and healthy.”
Lang said the entire series of events also provided a teaching opportunity.
“I like the idea that it came from the students,” she said. “We try to promote that student ideas matter and if they act on those ideas they can change their communities. It’s positive empowerment. It’s important for kids to see that they can make an impact.”
Lang did not know when the water stations will be installed or which of the old fountains they will replace.