John A. Burns School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente partner to fight obesity at schools

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tina Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Director of Communications, Office of Dean of Medicine
Posted: Oct 26, 2015

A student uses the new water bottle filling station at Kaneohe Elementary.
A student uses the new water bottle filling station at Kaneohe Elementary.

Students and faculty at Kane'ohe Elementary School are drinking up the benefits of the best sugar-free beverage, water, thanks to a partnership between the UH medical school and Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi, one of the state's largest health-care providers.

Today, the Windward Oʻahu school unveiled a water bottle filling station and water bottle for every child to promote healthy beverage consumption. The project is part of a coordinated school wellness strategy led by the Hawaiʻi Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education (HICORE), a health initiative of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) at UH Mānoa, to help reduce health disparities and childhood obesity.

“Eating and drinking habits, like exercise patterns, begin in early childhood,” said Dr. May Okihiro, JABSOM pediatrician and HICORE director. “Drinking water regularly is essential to good health.”

The filling station, unveiled at an event this morning at Kane'ohe Elementary, was attended by fourth-grade students, administrators and first lady Dawn Ige, an elementary school vice principal and longtime champion of children’s health and educational initiatives.

“Simple changes to diet and exercise can help our children develop healthy habits that will stay with them throughout their lives,” said Mary Ann Barnes, RN, president of Kaiser Permanente Hawai'i. “We’re happy to partner with HICORE as part of our Thriving Schools initiative to improve the health of our keiki.”

An estimated 25 Hawai'i schools and 31,000 students are expected to benefit from the water bottle filling stations, supported by a $92,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Hawai'i, the first organization to partner with JABSOM to lead the Be Well at School initiative. Other partners include HMSA, Kōkua Hawaiʻi and ʻOhana Health.  Participating schools will also incorporate healthy beverage consumption as part of school wellness policies.

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