Columbus is Making Waves with Water First for Thirst
In 2009, GHKC launched Columbus’ Water First for Thirst Campaign to help make water the easy, appealing, and first beverage choice for children and families across the city.
The campaign is working to encourage toddlers to drink water instead of sugary drinks–such as soda, energy drinks and sweetened powder drink mixes. It’s focused on reaching minority communities and families who participate in WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children).
When the campaign started, about 40% of Ohio’s third graders drank two or more sugary drinks each day, a habit that has been strongly linked to increased risk of overweight, obesity and diabetes. Today, the campaign has been embraced across the state by communities from all walks of life and implemented in more than 23 counties.
The impact is far reaching. At many events, only water or unsweetened beverages are served, instead of fruit punch, soda, or flavored drinks. At outdoor events, you might find water coolers or dispensers. Since 2009, all beverage vending machines located in student areas of Columbus City Schools sell only water. In 2011, Nationwide Children’s Hospital eliminated all sugary drinks from their campus and reduced the price of bottled water. And in 2012, the Columbus Public Health department eliminated all sugary drinks from its vending machines.
And it doesn’t end there. From farmers markets to daycares to afterschool programs, the Water First for Thirst Campaign is continuing to make waves.