Juniors Yasi Henderson and Andrea Rix run an on-campus service club called the Period Poverty Project, and recently hosted a student drive to collect period products.
From January 27-31, they hosted a drive to collect new boxes and packages of period products. At the end of that week, the final count for all requested products: more than 3,200 tampons donated by sophomores, juniors and seniors; 3,100 pads from eighth, ninth and tenth graders; and 18,500 baby wipes received from students in sixth and seventh grades. Student volunteers then assembled more than 500 separate packs on Friday, Feb. 7 during both middle and upper school lunches. The packs will go to Rachel’s Women’s Center, a local homeless shelter.
The on-campus service club advocates for women who lack period products by hosting drives and raising awareness at club meetings. Yasi adds, “We also work to debunk the social stigma around menstruation by making it an open topic of discussion.”
What inspired them? Yasi explains, “A book I read over the summer called ‘Period Power’ by Nadya Okamoto is what initially inspired our service club. Nadya’s book is all about the creation of her organization named PERIOD, the necessary actions to solving period poverty, and how we all can work to debunk the stigma.”
Yasi shared the book with Andrea, who says, “I had never even heard of this issue, let alone spent time thinking about its devastating effects on the health, education and wellbeing of women all around the world.”
Spurred into action, the girls took their idea to director of service learning Jackie Gomez; English teacher Elly Smith became their club sponsor. “These two women have truly supported us, dedicating so much time and energy to helping our shared cause,” says Andrea.
“Mrs. Gomez has been our advocate and extremely supportive. She helped us with organizing our first drive and delivering our donations to Rachel’s Women’s Center. Ms. Smith has provided us with a room to hold our club meetings and assisting us in unpacking and organizing the incredible number of donated products,” notes Yasi.
She continues, “Although the main focus of this project is to supply women with the products they need for their periods, it has brought other impacts on the Bishop’s community that are very unique. Watching students from all grades, both girls and boys, bringing in period products and helping us assemble the packs was proof to our whole school that we have already started to address the taboo. People have begun to realize that as uncomfortable as many make it seem, it’s plenty more uncomfortable and unhealthy to not have the necessary products for a period. We are very appreciative of how supportive and accepting the Bishop’s community is, and I hope that this is just the beginning of our role in the menstrual movement.”
Andrea agrees, sharing, “We are so grateful for the wonderful, open community here at Bishop’s. It means so much to me that our community was so accepting of a cause that is unfortunately often viewed as ‘uncomfortable.’”
The club motto: Remember, it’s not awkward unless you make it awkward!