Friday, August 13, 2010

Critical Information for Staying Hydrated

Guest Blogger: Rhonda Fincher of the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation

Fifteen years ago I learned that heat illness can kill and that proper hydration is one way to prevent heat illness. I also learned that it is necessary to TEACH proper hydration. It was 15 years ago at this time that my son Kendrick was in Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Our healthy 13-year-old son had gone to his first day of football practice on a hot Arkansas day and suffered heat stroke. I watched and participated in the fight for his survival, but in the end he died 18 days later from multi-system organ failure as a result of heat stroke.

There was a lot I didn’t know 15 years ago that I know now. Let me share some of these with you:
  • Heat stroke can kill a healthy 13-year-old boy.
  • An athlete and their parents need to make sure they are ready for practices and games; it is not only the coaches’ responsibility.
  • Football practice for 8th grade is not like taking your child to community recreational sports practice.
  • Most people do not recognize the importance of proper hydration throughout their daily lives.
  • Coaches want winning teams and they do what they need to do to ensure the athlete is ready for games. It can be a tough and grueling practice, but everyone wants their team to win, right? Even parents.
  • The Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation would directly educate over 200,000 children and athletes about the importance of proper hydration and heat illness prevention.
  • I would have the resolve to do for 15 years what I wish would have been done before Kendrick died.
  • Athletes still die from heat stroke.
  • I would be sitting in an office adorned with t-shirts from 12 youth runs in memory of my son.
  • I would be lugging tents and misting units and serving ice water across Northwest Arkansas in an effort to keep the community cool.
  • Kendrick’s name would be on the NFL website.
  • Kendrick’s name would be in the US Congressional record.
  • If you Google “Kendrick Fincher” there are pages and pages of results.
Elementary school is a critical time to TEACH children the importance of proper hydration. With the continual media messages that beverage choices should be carbonated, sparkling, flavored, caffeinated, etc., it is important that we demonstrate healthy drink choices and teach children the importance of water to their health. There is also a lot of information I have gained that I have been able to share with educators and coaches. Much of what teachers and coaches are trained in college to do for their job has to do with education and techniques.

Here are some suggestions and resources for physical educators to encourage this healthy lifestyle in the students and teachers they work with:

- Use our “beehydrated” pamphlet that talks about basic hydration information to teach a unit in hydration.

- For athletes, our “Beat the Heat” pamphlet provides a great resource.

- Encourage the teachers to have the children bring in a water bottle and keep on their desk to hydrate throughout the day. It is to their benefit as just a 1% dehydration level of thirst, results in a 10% reduction in the child’s ability to concentrate.

- In high school levels, talk to the principal or superintendent about allowing and encouraging the students to be drinking water throughout the day. Many children are involved in after school sports and unless they are hydrating throughout the day their performance and their safety will be compromised.

- Water fountains, in addition to providing a source of germs, only result in a 1-3 ounce drink of water. Teachers can allow students time to fill up their water bottles in the morning and then use their water fountain trip for a bathroom break.

Properly hydrated children are healthier children! Water affects all aspects of life and what better way to ensure children are in school and learning to their full capacity: TEACH the importance of proper hydration for their body!

For more information and resources, contact Rhonda or visit the Kendrick Fincher Hydration Foundation website.

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