BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s a challenge many adults would lose– no soda for the next 30 days. But it’s a test that nearly 200 students at one Baltimore City school plan to pass.

Gigi Barnett has more.

There’s no soda in the cafeteria at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore. Only milk and juice. And for the next 30 days over the summer, students say they’ll continue to live without sugary drinks. It’s called the Soda-Free Summer Break Challenge, and for some of them, it’s a tough pledge to take.

“Root beer is my absolute favorite soda in the whole entire world,” Nia Rolley, a student at Roland Park, said.

The school’s Wellness Committee is well aware of that. It’s also headed by Baltimore’s former health commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson who says the 30-day challenge is designed to break bad habits.

“If you go a month without doing that, it oftentimes will break your pattern,” Beilenson said. “In Howard County, where we tried this a few months ago, that’s exactly what we found happened, particularly with parents and teachers.”

When the school realized that the average American drinks about 45 gallons of soda every year, they removed the soda machine. Now, only an outline of the machine and a picture remain on the wall, reminding students of their summer challenge.

“It will be harder but I guess there would be different things out there so it wouldn’t be as hard,” Rolley said.

The summer challenge is like any other test in school, all based on the honor system. But for the students who crush the challenge, there is no reward.

“If they’re giving out rewards, I think they’re just bribing people,” Zachary Aldouby, a Roland Park student, said. “People should really make their own decisions.”

Barnett: “So the reward should be your good health?”
Aldouby: “Yeah. Because if people don’t think that’s a good reward, then I don’t think anything is.”

The challenge should be a continuous 30 days. The school said it was also encouraging its students to exercise more during their summer break.

The soda-free summer break isn’t just for students. The school says it’s challenging parents and teachers, too.


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