In the month of September, UCA students were encouraged to switch up their drinks as part of the Rethink Your Drink campaign. This campaign encourages people to stop consuming as much soda and instead, start trying to drink more water and other beverages with lower amounts of sugar.
Among the various activities going on throughout the month, university faculty and staff were encouraged to go 30 days without any sugar-enhanced drink. Bring Your Water Bottle to School/Work Day on Sept. 24 was also a way for people to stay hydrated throughout the day without worrying about buying anything from the closest vending machine.
Jenna Davidson, the director for student wellness at UCA, had decided the campaign would help the UCA community as a whole after she had looked over the Healthy Active Arkansas target areas. These target areas are an initiative of the organization to encourage Arkansans to make healthier choices. These target areas also cover an array of topics including the benefits of reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and how to raise nutritional awareness in both schools and the workplace.
“By getting messages around campus and on social media where individuals can see them, we are helping to motivate and remind everyone to drink water and less sugar-sweetened beverages,” Davidson said.
On Sept. 19 and 23, a display had been set up that informed onlookers of the statistics on sugary drinks as well as encourage them to try out the available fruit-infused water. Davidson claimed that the one statistic that shocked students the most was an image that read, “A 20-oz bottle of soda contains more sugar than 18 cookies or 6 glazed donuts.” Davidson said approximately 75 students showed up at each one of the displays that were set up on the first floor of the UCA Student Center during these days.
Nathan Slinkard, the official dietitian for UCA, thought that the showcases in the Student Center were fantastic for the campaign.
“I think this is a great campaign, especially coming out of the summer,” Slinkard said. He said he has had opportunities to talk with staff and students about the proper amount of sugary drinks to have, especially given his position near the cafeteria.
“Some people don’t love the taste of plain water but throw some fruit in there or some mint … it tastes really good,” Slinkard said when discussing why the infused water was offered. Although he only joined UCA in June, he spoke highly of the campaign’s first year on campus.
Dr. Joe Thompson, the head of the Arkansas Center for Health and Improvement, as well as Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells visited for the campaign Sept. 23. Slinkard and Davidson said the two were very supportive of the efforts and provided water bottles that could be handed out to those who stopped by. Both Thompson and Wells are members of the Healthy Arkansas Board, the organization that helped develop the original campaign.
Davidson intends to make this campaign an annual event at UCA.