New water fountain at Lincoln allows students to fill bottles

Monday, January 15, 2018
Lincoln Elementary School recently received a grant from Delta Dental allowing the school to get a new water fountain. Along with the water fountain, the school received a water bottle and tooth brush for every child, as well as funding for oral health education. (Above) Fourth-grade student Zach Kooker fills up his water bottle at the new fountain. (Photo by Colin Van Westen)

Lincoln Elementary, in Spencer, recently received a new water fountain allowing students and faculty the ability to more easily refill water bottles which students can take to class. The water fountain was given as part of Delta Dental's "Rethink the Drink" program aimed at prompting oral and overall health.

"We had a water fountain that was not working and Cammy (Hinkeldey, Spencer Community School District nurse) found this grant for a water fountain you can fill water bottles with," Lincoln Elementary Principal Cindy DeVlaeminck said. "So we thought this would be a great opportunity to get the drinking fountain and do some education with the kids about drinking water versus drinking sugary drinks and the importance of staying hydrated. Really there is research behind how keeping your body hydrated effects overall health and actual learning. If kids are sitting here dehydrated they are not as focused and don't have as much energy."

In addition to the water fountain, at a cost $2,385, Delta Dental also donated water bottles, bookmarks, toothbrushes and $500 for oral health education.

"It (drinking fluoridated water) promotes a good healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages and fosters healthy habits that will hopefully carry to adolescence," said Jill Hamilton, communications director with Delta Dental Corporate. "Having a water bottle filling station in school encourages students to refill their personal water bottles and provides a low-cost way for kids to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking optimally fluoridated water helps wash away bacteria in the mouth, aids in healthy digestion and helps keep the brain, muscles and body working properly."

Lincoln Elementary qualified for the grant because the community has optimally fluoridated water, the school has over a 50 percent rate of free and reduced price lunch and the school did not already have a water bottle filling station installed in the building.

The water bottles will be passed out in February to coincide with dental health month.

"We have talked to some local dentists and we want to collaborate with them and the I-Smile program," Hinkeldey said. "We want to do a kickoff and have a little program on sugary drinks versus water, the effects of sugary drinks, the benefits of water and the importance of dental hygiene such as flossing once a day, brushing twice a day and regular check-ups every six months. That will be the kickoff, but we want to sustain the education through guidance and the classroom health curriculum."

"I think this age is really important, too," Lincoln Elementary guidance counselor Abby Weber said. "We are setting them up for a middle school and they are getting a lot more independent so they are taking the ownership of their choices. It is important to establish those healthy habits now."

Pediatric Dentist Brea Schmidt said oral health should begin as soon as children's teeth erupt. She said the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommended that all children see a dentist by age 1.

"The biggest problem that we see is kids that are consuming too many sugar beverages," Schmidt said. Things such as juice, Gatorade, pop and chocolate milk are very hard on teeth. We recommend that kids limit these sugary beverages to avoid decay. Another danger kids in this age group face is not brushing effectively or for a long enough time."

Schmidt recommended regular preventative check-ups and cleanings, parents helping their children brush their teeth until approximately age 8 to make sure the children are brushing twice at morning and night, and children should brush for two minutes to ensure that all surfaces are clean. The American Dental Association also recommended all children use fluoride toothpaste.

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