Fountains of Empowerment
Tags: Active Living, drinking fountains, Healthy Eating, Hollywood High School, LAUSD, The L.A. Trust, Water, Wellness Council
Categories: Active Living, Healthy Eating, Obesity prevention, Water
Imagine going to school feeling thirsty and walking to the nearest water fountain only to find a sign that says, “Not a Drinking Water Source.” You then head over to the next water fountain, but this one is shut off. This is the reality for Estelle at Hollywood High School (HHS) as it is with many of her peers. In fact, one in every four California public schools does not meet state and federal requirements for providing drinking water.
The effects of inadequate access to drinking water on children are particularly harmful—leading to decreased cognitive function, excessive weight gain, and increased occurrences of tooth decay. A study conducted by Harvard University found that more than 50% of all U.S. children and adolescents are under-hydrated, the majority of whom are youth of color.
Estelle is fortunate in that she’s part of a community at her school that listens to the health issues that emerge. She is a member of HHS’s Wellness Council—a group of 20 students, teachers, wellness center staff, and administrators that advocates for a culture of health at the school. During the meeting, Estelle brings up this issue, the students in the group sympathize with her, and share their personal stories of water access on campus.
As an intern with The L.A. Trust, I realize building bridges among key campus stakeholders to address health disparities such as water access is part of our work. Estelle leaves the Wellness Council meeting with a plan of action and a sense of empowerment. She’s making a difference not only for herself but for generations to come at HHS.
Byanka V. Melgar will be completing her MPH this Fall 2016 from Cal State Northridge. As a Health Educator in teen pregnancy prevention, obesity prevention & substance use awareness, she realized that she can help and increase knowledge by pursing a graduate degree in Public Health. As an intern with The L.A. Trust, she is supporting the Healthy Eating Active Living program.