Kids drink to virtues of tap water

By Lachlan Durling

HEALTHY smiles were aplenty at Heathcote Preschool on Thursday after hearing the children will be part of Coliban Water’s Smiles 4 Miles initiative.

The program has just started across the Greater Bendigo region, with students at Havilah Road Preschool in Bendigo the first to receive the packs. Heathcote Preschool will be receiving the packs in October.

This is the second year Coliban Water has promoted the consumption of tap water through the Choose Tap message in Smiles 4 Miles early childhood services, and the drink-well message from Dental Health Services Victoria.

Coliban Water said the program aims to improve the oral health of preschool children and encourage good habits early in life.

Sam Harvey, Heathcote Preschool’s Kinder assistant, said the Coliban Water project is a perfect fit with the other programs the preschool runs.

“We’re embracing it as it fits in well with the other programs we’re running,” she said.

“Thanks to the Heathcote foodshare we get fruit, parent helpers come in and cut it up to give to the kids.”

Sam said the programs had helped the preschool promote healthy and sustainable living.

“These initiatives have reduced our packed foods by about 80 per cent. The kids usually bring in the leftovers of dinner from home and we provide them with the fruit in the afternoon — they really enjoy it,” she said.

Roslyn Wai, Coliban Water corporate strategy and governance general manager, said Coliban Water would be providing Choose Tap packs to 56 kindergartens and preschools in 2018 — up from 37 in 2017.

The program will be extended into Campaspe Shire for the first time, in addition to preschools in the Greater Bendigo region.

The program is facilitated by service providers Bendigo Health, Northern District Community Health and Echuca Regional Health.

“Our Choose Tap initiative promotes the benefits of drinking tap water as an alternative to sugary drinks and is a perfect fit with Smiles 4 Miles,” Ms Wai said.

“About 5000 preschool children will receive a Choose Tap reusable water bottle containing a parent information sheet and some stickers. Kindergartens will receive access to Choose Tap resources and some brand-new water heroes teaching materials.”

The bottles and resources are provided free for services registered with the Smiles 4 Miles initiative.

Ms Wai said tap water also represents value for money.

“One litre of bottled water can cost $3, but for the same cost you can refill a one litre bottle from the tap, every day, for more than two and half years,” Ms Wai said.

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