Students at Lois S. Hornsby Middle School received a sweet surprise after rallying against sugary drinks.
Hornsby was selected as the “Biggest Splash Online” award winner by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth for the school’s social media participation in Rev Your Bev Day.
The annual event encourages young people to become healthier by cutting down on the amount of sugary beverages they drink.
Rev Your Bev Coordinator Jae Aron said young people are especially at risk for the adverse effects of consuming too much sugar, including an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.
According to statistics provided by VFHY, more than one-third of 5- to 19-year-olds drink at least one sugar beverage per day, and only half of 15,000 people surveyed could identify beverages sweetened by sugar.
Aron said schools across Virginia participated in the May 13 Rev Your Bev Day, encouraging students to switch from sugary drinks to healthy alternatives through personal pledges and filling out surveys on their drinking habits.
“You can definitely see a personal spin on it,” Aron said.
Aron said schools are free to organize their own activities surrounding the day, with guidance from VFHY, and Hornsby emphasized social media. During their lunch hours, students were encouraged to take personal pledges to cut back on sugary drinks, and photos of the pledges were uploaded to social media sites.
Using hashtags like #RevYourBev, #drinkmoreH2O and #Hornsbyishealthy, the school showed its support for cutting down on sugar.
“I couldn’t keep up with the students that wanted their pictures and messages tweeted,” Janice Kailos, coordinator for wellness and community outreach for the School Health Initiative Program, said in a news release. “It was just a blast to see the students get so excited about tweeting their healthy messaging.”
The students also filled out surveys on their sugary drink habits as part of a statewide data collection project. Aron said sugary drinks are a large factor in the declining health of Virginia’s youth, but little is known about their actual habits. The survey will help VFHY understand the nature of the problem and craft better solutions, she said.
“We’re trying to create urgency to motivate people to change their habits,” Aron said.
The May event was VFHY’s third annual Rev Your Bev day, but Aron said changes are in store for next year’s event. Beginning next year, Rev Your Bev will be an annual campaign led by youth activists to encourage healthy choices throughout the year.
“People are talking about it, but we want to get everyone talking about it,” Aron said.