Clean Water Matters – Water Access in Philadelphia School District

Many schools in Philadelphia are faced with lead contamination in their water lines. An environmental report has found that potentially exposing tens of thousands of students to toxins can cause learning and behavioral issues and health problems, including damage to internal organs. 

The American Heart Association understands the School District of Philadelphia (SDP)’s unique challenges. Our ongoing collaboration with the school district has ensured all students receive hands-only CPR training before high school graduation, increased physical activity opportunities, and improved access to healthier foods. 

The School District of Philadelphia recently announced its commitment and plan to increase its investment to install more hydration stations in schools.  

The potential acquisition would include: 

  • $6.2 million for the hydration stations project will provide 800 additional hydration stations in 269 buildings by 2025 (if not sooner). 
  • A minimum of 145 hydration stations will be installed by September 2022. 
  • The district will have over 2,100 hydration stations installed by completing this project. 

Hydration stations provide chilled, filtered water and are good for the environment – schools saved a total of 1.4 million plastic bottles from landfills during the first year of using them, according to a statement by the School District of Philadelphia. 

On May 26th, the Board of Education voted on a (School Year) SY 22-23 budget that includes these necessary investments. “We express great gratitude that the Philadelphia Board of Education and School District of Philadelphia are working with community organizations and advocates who supported this policy and investment to improve water access and quality for our children”, said Dr. Deon Vigilance, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic and American Heart Association Greater Philadelphia Region Board President. 

Adequate water intake can positively impact children’s cognitive performance, particularly short-term memory. Drinking water can also improve children’s visual attention and fine motor skills. In addition, water plays a vital role in maintaining a child’s overall health. Drinking water supports children’s muscles, joints, and tissues; improves their digestive system; and keeps their growing bodies hydrated. 

“On behalf of the American Heart Association’s Greater Philadelphia Region board of directors, we applaud the school district’s recent announcement and commitment to investing more than $6 million to improve water access and quality for our city’s children. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the district and organizations across Philadelphia to improve the health and wellbeing of our young people”, said Dixie James, President & Chief Operating Officer, Philadelphia, Einstein Healthcare Network and American Heart Association Greater Philadelphia Region Board Chair.