Oral Health Kansas believes in the mission of making every child’s potential a reality, and students who drink water do better in school. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and teenagers be taught to pick water as their first drink of choice. According to the CDC, “Drinking water can contribute to good health, and schools are in a unique position to promote healthy, dietary behaviors, including drinking water.” Thirsty for Health accomplishes this goal through engaging and empowering families, communities and schools to advocate for the health of all children.

Water is calorie-free and helps children avoid health problems such as obesity and dental caries when it is chosen over high calorie, sugar-sweetened drinks. This initiative is designed to help schools promote drinking water by making it more accessible, available and desirable to schoolchildren and young adults.

We are currently working on a new evolution to Thirsty for Health! With the support of the American Heart Association, Voices for Healthy Kids, we are partnering with the United School Administrators of Kansas and Community Action, Inc. in Topeka on a project to enact policy change in school districts across Kansas that ensure all newly constructed and renovated school buildings have water bottle filling stations. We will target school districts to ensure the policy makes a difference for students who are often most directly impacted by health disparities, poorly funded school programs, and high levels of junk food marketing.


Access to drinking water helps
Kansas kids stay healthy
Across the country, health care workers and public health professionals fight a battle against rising adult obesity rates. Even more frightening, though, is the health status of our children, with nearly 1 of every 3 kids age 10-17 being classified as overweight or obese.

One way to combat this epidemic is by ensuring children have access to drinking water during school hours, instead of just drinking sugary beverages. The Kansas Health Foundation is supporting this effort, which is being led by Oral Health Kansas.

“If we can improve the access and understanding in children that they need to drink more water, their overall health and their futures will be much brighter,” said Tanya Dorf Brunner, Executive Director at Oral Health Kansas.

Thirsty for Health intern, Jenna Gorton, interviewed several individuals at Topeka West High School that have water bottle filling stations in their buildings. Here is one interview with Math teacher, Andrew Lake. He discusses the positives he has seen since having water bottle filling stations.

The following organizations have signed on in support of the Thirsty for Health Project:
El Centro of Topeka
Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods
Kansas Action for Children
Shawnee County Health Department
Shawnee County Oral Health Coalition
Topeka Public Schools Parents as Teachers 501
United Way of Topeka


For more information, please send a message to or call 785.235.6039

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