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In response to USDA SNAP-Ed guidance, nutrition and 4-H youth development staff teamed up to initiate a Youth-led Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project with the aim to develop teens’ research and advocacy skills while addressing a hydration issue. This led to the creation of Project 4-H20 in 2016 and continues annually to implement a YPAR project focused on drinking water access and appeal within the John Swett Unified School District.


In 2017, six high school teens designed a survey and collected responses from their peers. They found:

  • 97% of students reported drinking water.
  • However, 60% of the students were not drinking water provided at school and instead brought water from home – reasons were a perception that the water was unsafe, tastes bad, and broken water fountains.
  • Consequently, the reported average student daily water consumption was 4.92 cups, less than the recommended 8 cups.

Project 4-H2O teens presented their findings to the John Swett Unified School District Board members and advocated for water refilling stations. This propelled the Board to approve funds to replace current water fountains at John Swett High School with newer water refilling stations as part of the ongoing high school renovation.

UPDATE: In 2019, Year 3, five high school teens continued the YPAR work and researched the impact of signage and positive messaging on school water intake - check out the National Drinking Water Alliance featured story

With Your Support...

Project 4-H2O would like to:

  • Provide teen-approved reusable water bottles to John Swett Unified School (JSHS) District teens.
  • Advocacy to expand current school board drinking water policy to ensure that JSHS District students have access to free, safe and appealing drinking water throughout the school day —current policy requires providing water just at meal times.
  • Continue engaging teens in Youth-led Participatory Action Research and encourage teens throughout Contra Costa County to drink more water.
  • Increase staffing to do all of the above.

For more information, contact:

Project 4-H2O Coordinator Eli Figueroa eifigueroa@ucanr.edu