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MHS Students Discover “Health is Wealth” through Hydration Challenge

Holiday celebrations are often filled with sweet treats and healthy habits can be neglected in the moment. Milton Hershey School Senior Division students returned from holiday break with a challenge to build new wellness habits in the new year.

“Hydration is a division-wide student wellness goal,” said Cindy Kelly, MHS Senior Manager of Senior Division Student Health and staff liaison to the Senior Division Health Council. “Based on student survey information, the Health Council chose this as their first area of focus. They wanted to create conversation around hydration from a kid’s lens.”

The result was the Hydration Challenge, a four-week awareness initiative to educate peers about the importance of hydration, share ways to get involved, and increase personal hydration—beyond the obvious choice of drinking more water.

“The challenge was all about finding ways for teens to get better water intake,” said Dymund Clark-Hutson, an MHS senior and member of the Health Council. “As a way to make it more fun, we chose different things for each week of the challenge.”

During kick-off week, the Health Council presented an informational video to all Senior Division students. They also promoted Plant Nanny, a free app for participants to track personal hydration. The app lets a user pick a cartoon seedling and “plant” it in a pot on a virtual window sill. As the user logs their daily water intake, the plant continues to grow. The app collects data over time and prompts the user when they are not hydrating sufficiently.

MHS students who downloaded the app received a “Health is Wellness”-branded silicone wristband to identify themselves as challenge participants. This glow-in-the-dark wristlet qualified them for the challenge’s weekly benefits.

A Milton Hershey School student participates in the Hydration Challenge on campus—teaching students ways beyond drinking water to stay hydrated.The second and third week featured access to flavor packets for water—a healthier alternative to drinking sugar-loaded sports drinks—and an all-natural chocolate milk snack. Students also were asked to share on social media positive photos of themselves participating in the challenge.

The final week’s lesson taught the participants and their peers that hydration can come in the form of food. To demonstrate this idea in a tangible way, the Health Council coordinated with MHS Food Services. Together, they selected a hydration-focused school lunch that will be served in the cafeteria on the last day of the month. Signage will explain what is begin served and how each choice benefits personal hydration.

“Hydration is very important in day-to-day function, and sometimes I think that as students, we can get really busy and forget to stay hydrated,” said Lydia Price, a sophomore and member of the Health Council. “I learned a lot more about the lesser-known things that water does for your body, like lubricating your joints, and I think I’m a lot more prone to drink water now that I understand this.”

“I am going to pay more attention to my personal hydration in the future because of the Hydration Challenge,” she said.

Milton Hershey School students learn how to core a pineapple as part of the school's Hydration Challenge.

The Health Council is a group of Senior Division students that meets weekly with the goal of promoting and advocating for student wellness initiatives. It began as a way to address Senior Division goals around health and wellness and to promote certain initiatives, including hydration. Besides special projects, the group also is interested in advocating for school policies and procedures surrounding wellness.

Hydration Challenge students will be invited to take part in H20 Day, a private celebration for participants, on April 1, 2020.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. View full Equal Opportunity Policy.