Four WKU students’ capstone project encourages kids to drink more water

Taylor Harrison

Four WKU public relations majors showed up for Water Works, an event to prevent childhood obesity, with lots of water bottles and game supplies to put on the event they’d been planning for months.

The Water Works event and overall campaign to prevent childhood obesity is part of Public Relations Student Society of America’s national competition, The Bateman Case Study Competition.

Water Works was organized by four seniors as part of their capstone project: Kaitlyn Swaggert, from Louisville, Aaron Waters, from Danville, Laura Dennis, from Clarkson, and Jill Zangari, from Louisville. Water Works was designed as a way to teach kids how beneficial water is in preventing obesity, in a fun way.    

“The whole objective is we’re trying to battle childhood obesity — the rates have increased, especially in Kentucky,” Swaggert said. “So, the whole point of the Bateman Competition is to promote different campaigns that will lower the rates, so we took the water way.”

“We decided to promote water because that’s a way to stay healthy and also keep your weight low,” Swaggert said.

The event was held at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green, which has an after-school and tutoring program.

Zangari said that water wasn’t the only strategy they thought of for their project.

 “We thought of eating healthy first and getting kids to choose vegetables over McDonald’s is pretty much impossible, so we decided: water,” Zangari said.

At the event, 10 kids from the community gathered around and the WKU students taught them how beneficial it is to drink water daily.  But rather than give a lecture, they organized four games for the kids to play.

The first game showed the children how much sugar is really in soda. The kids had to race to fill up a two-liter with the correct amount of sugar. That allowed them a visual representation of how much sugar is in soda.

“We wanted to visualize the sugar amount in a liter,” Dennis said. “Without visuals, it’s hard for kids to actually see, and seeing is believing.”

The next game helped the children see how much weight they could gain by drinking too much soda — one can a day for a year could cause someone to gain 26 pounds. To demonstrate, the kids ran another race, but this time they had to add articles of clothing to themselves to weigh them down.

The third game involved actual water — water bottles and water balloons. The kids filled up water balloons with all the water from four water bottles, which equal 8 cups, a daily serving. This showed the kids how much water they would need to drink daily.

Melissa Hardin, community advisor at Warren County Water District, spoke to the kids about the process that goes into purifying drinking water and also where Bowling Green gets its water — from the Barren River.

The “finale” game, as the WKU students called it, involved stacking up about 1,500 cups spray-painted blue. The cups signified how much water the kids should drink in a six month period.

Throughout the day, the WKU students surveyed the kids on what they were learning. At the end, they took a final survey to see how many of them would try to drink more water.     

The children received prizes at the end of the day — medals or water bottles.

“I think the kids had fun and we definitely had fun doing it,” Swaggert said.

Waters and Dennis both said that there is still work to be done after Friday’s event. They have to put a book together for the national competition about their event and campaign.

“The event is like the first mile mark in what we have left to do,” Dennis said. “We have to compose a book and we have to have all of our research, all of our campaigning. We have to have, you know, objectives and strategies and tactics and all that.”