Implementing and sustaining a successful water program requires the help of many stakeholders. Active engagement will help you build a team that is committed to making sure your school water program is successful
Identify Key Stakeholders
Your first step in building your team is to identify individuals who will be directly involved in implementing the water program, such as cafeteria staff, custodial and facilities staff, and district or school administrators. You will also want to seek out individuals or groups from your school, district, and community who are interested in promoting water consumption a way to support students’ health and well-being
Meet with Key Stakeholders
After you identify key stakeholders for your water program, meet with them to discuss your plans and solicit their feedback. Below are suggested items for your discussion
- Are there any preferences or restrictions about where water can be accessed or consumed at school?
- Does the school or district have plans to remodel or build new facilities?
- What resources does the food service staff have, if any, to facilitate the program?
- Are maintenance personnel willing and able to assist with any cleaning or maintenance of school water sources?
Create a Formal Team
Formalize a water team that meets regularly to work on the water program. In addition to cafeteria managers, the principal or vice principal, students, and facilities staff, you might also invite parents, teachers, and other relevant parties join your team.
Conduct a Needs Assessment
Needs assessment is a process for determining gaps between current and desired conditions. You can conduct a needs assessment by taking an inventory of the existing water sources at the school, including assessing how appealing these sources are (e.g., whether the water source is kept clean, whether the water is clear and cold).
- The Harvard Water Audit Tool
- Environmental Protection Agency Manual: 3T’s for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools
- Water Works Guide Action 1: Gather Support and Build Your Team
The State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has created a toolkit called School Wellness Policy Best Practices for Development, Implementation and Evaluation. The toolkit and its associated website feature sample letters to parents, community members, and staff inviting them to join the school’s wellness committee. These letters can be adapted to work for water programs.