Sugar-free school a happy one

SAYAE2WAI: Tolaga Bay Area School students (rear, from left) Beritane Milner, Uenuku Kohatu and Loma Hill (front, from left) Kamaana Toroa-Harding and Rickie-Lee Pewhairangi-Lawton enjoy cooling and healthy water. The school is among many Tairawhiti organisations calling on community leaders to implement water only or water promoting environments. People can follow the movement on Facebook @Sayae2wai. Picture supplied

THERE is no debate over the merits of being a water only and sugar-free school among the students of Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui.

Tumuaki (principal) Nori Parata made the move to a water only and sugar-free school back in 2007.

She was frustrated with the copious levels of sugar content she could see students consuming daily.

“You can see immediately the effect that sugar has on children’s ability to manage themselves and manage their behaviour,’’ she said.

Today, most pupils can explain what the dangers of excess sugar are and the school is a supporter of the Tairawhiti Sayae2wai (say yes to water) campaign.

“There was an immediate change in their ability to self manage their behaviour at school,” Ms Parata said.

“I did expect that we’d get a backlash, I really did. But surprisingly we didn’t."

The school notified parents, whanau and the community of the new policy, and explained to students the reasoning behind the shift.

“We had one or two parents that weren’t happy because their children would only drink water if there was cordial in it, so they were worried their children wouldn’t get enough hydration, a fair enough concern.”

Ms Parata reassured parents that teachers would monitor their drinking throughout the day.

“Most parents were supportive because, one, they could see the health benefits of getting on board, but two, the cost of those items. Fizzy drinks and lollies are expensive,” she said.

“To some extent the shops got on board, and are less likely to sell lollies to kids before school. We’ve got teenagers at the school as well, and now and again, the odd one will try to sneak something in.

“I’m not saying we’re perfect but it would be an exception to find a bottle or can of fizzy drink around the school.

“Most students are quite happy to drink water. This means teachers are not constantly battling with students about drinking choices in learning time.

“The kids monitored themselves and their classmates, so in some ways, peer pressure came to bear, until it normalised.”

The school installed new drinking fountains and promoted the use of water bottles, encouraging students to have them in classrooms and to sip throughout lessons.

The water supply comes from a bore and is stored in tanks, which is then filtered through a specially designed system. The water is regularly tested for quality and to ensure it is meeting the expected standards.

Parents may choose to buy bottled water for their children, but there is no need to.

A dental therapist told Ms Parata that after a couple of years there was a marked decline in the number of cavities in children at those schools that were water only, sugar-free and had the fruit in schools programme.

“Ours was an example of that,” she said.

THERE is no debate over the merits of being a water only and sugar-free school among the students of Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui.

Tumuaki (principal) Nori Parata made the move to a water only and sugar-free school back in 2007.

She was frustrated with the copious levels of sugar content she could see students consuming daily.

“You can see immediately the effect that sugar has on children’s ability to manage themselves and manage their behaviour,’’ she said.

Today, most pupils can explain what the dangers of excess sugar are and the school is a supporter of the Tairawhiti Sayae2wai (say yes to water) campaign.

“There was an immediate change in their ability to self manage their behaviour at school,” Ms Parata said.

“I did expect that we’d get a backlash, I really did. But surprisingly we didn’t."

The school notified parents, whanau and the community of the new policy, and explained to students the reasoning behind the shift.

“We had one or two parents that weren’t happy because their children would only drink water if there was cordial in it, so they were worried their children wouldn’t get enough hydration, a fair enough concern.”

Ms Parata reassured parents that teachers would monitor their drinking throughout the day.

“Most parents were supportive because, one, they could see the health benefits of getting on board, but two, the cost of those items. Fizzy drinks and lollies are expensive,” she said.

“To some extent the shops got on board, and are less likely to sell lollies to kids before school. We’ve got teenagers at the school as well, and now and again, the odd one will try to sneak something in.

“I’m not saying we’re perfect but it would be an exception to find a bottle or can of fizzy drink around the school.

“Most students are quite happy to drink water. This means teachers are not constantly battling with students about drinking choices in learning time.

“The kids monitored themselves and their classmates, so in some ways, peer pressure came to bear, until it normalised.”

The school installed new drinking fountains and promoted the use of water bottles, encouraging students to have them in classrooms and to sip throughout lessons.

The water supply comes from a bore and is stored in tanks, which is then filtered through a specially designed system. The water is regularly tested for quality and to ensure it is meeting the expected standards.

Parents may choose to buy bottled water for their children, but there is no need to.

A dental therapist told Ms Parata that after a couple of years there was a marked decline in the number of cavities in children at those schools that were water only, sugar-free and had the fruit in schools programme.

“Ours was an example of that,” she said.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you agree with the Mayor that there is a case for returning to zebra crossings in the city centre?