About 300 re-usable water bottles have been purchased for students at Alexander Elementary School to use after the school decided on a water-only to drink program. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Vancouver Island school says ‘no’ to pop and juice

Water is the only option for thirsty students during this trial run at an elementary school in Duncan’s Cowichan Valley.

Officials at Duncan’s Alexander Elementary school on Vancouver Island have sent a notice home to parents saying the school will no longer allow pop, iced tea, juice or energy drinks.

The school has gone water-only, after a successful experiment that saw staff and students consume more than 2,000 litres of water towards the end of the last school year. Instead, the school’s parent advisory group has donated new re-usable water bottles.

“We definitely support it,” said school PAC co-chair Sarah Byrne. “I’m pretty sure we ordered 300 water bottles so that we could give one to every student that was coming and then have a few leftover for any sports teams and stuff,” she said.

Superintendent Rod Allen said the district is “fully supportive” of what the school is doing, “and we wouldn’t be surprised if other schools are going to be watching to see how it goes.”

He noted School District 79 (Cowichan Valley) is working to provide all its schools with at least one water bottle filling station.

“We’re certainly supportive of initiatives that promote good health and nutrition for our students and staff,” Allen said. “We’re not aware of any other schools in our district who are doing a water-only school initiative like Alexander Elementary, but many of our schools have incorporated elements of a healthy lifestyle in their schools.”

For example, school meal programs focused on providing a balanced meal.

“We work with a local nutritionist to support talking to kids about nutrition. And many schools are encouraging students to have healthy lunches, healthy snacks, limiting their sugar intake, etcetera, through awareness and education.”

While school officials were praising the move, Facebooker’s reactions were mixed about the idea.

Some were moderately supportive, while others were vehemently opposed.

The notice that went out to parents did note, however, the move is only a trail run and will be reevaluated at a later time.

“We will try this out for a little while, and see how we do,” it said. “We are looking forward to seeing our learners continue to make healthy choices!!!”

Other commenters also pointed out this initiative takes away the ability for kids to choose for themselves, something that could deter them later on in life.

Canada’s Childhood Obesity Foundation advocates for no sugary drinks and information on its website notes: “Children at risk of becoming overweight or obese include children who consume food and drinks that are high in sugar and fat on a regular basis such as fast food, candy, baked goods, and ESPECIALLY pop and other sugar-sweetened beverages.”