February 2022, Adianna Lynne and Ms. Swanson created a personal care station to hold products for those who need them in the bathrooms of our school, after articulation of thought, ideas, and aspirations, and development of the station itself. In the month of February, Adianna Lynne created the personal care station fitted with toiletries, menstrual products and other necessary amenities, that was placed in the 200 hallway’s women’s bathroom with the help and support of Ms. Swanson. The main purpose of this station was to provide for those who may not be able to afford products such as tampons, pads, deodorant, or even simpleties such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, and supply our school’s bathrooms with products that are high in need, in a place that is easily accessible.
After two weeks, Lynne released a survey about the station, asking students what they thought of the station, how it can improve and other questions that can help our school better advocate and provide for its students.
Data showed that 100% of the respondents, who are students enrolled at North Point, said that having menstrual/hygiene products in the bathrooms will be beneficial to them.
87.1 percent of students replied that they would find having the accessibility to products in all of the bathrooms within our school helpful, as well as convenient and beneficial to both their personal hygiene and health. This convenience can also contribute to a reduction of stress.
While students are able to bring their own products to school, the prices of these necessary items are exceedingly high. When students attempt to bring their own products, the act itself can be a distraction from learning and often cause anxiety within the student, due to the individual trying to be discreet, especially if they are forced to go home due to the lack of supplies accessible for their health.
A quote from the ACLU states, “On any given day, there are 800,000,000 people on the planet who are menstruating, of whom at least 500,000,000 lack adequate resources — basic supplies, facilities, information, and support — for managing their periods.”
62.5 percent of people who menstruate are unable to provide for themselves the supplies they are in need of. Students often forget their own supplies, or the time that they need them is unprecedented, and they are unable to have the necessities they need within their possession. Having these items close by, instead of missing class and seeing the nurse, is beneficial as some students are embarrassed to ask for feminine products and would rather go home or suffer silently.
Not only are these products expensive, but the use of these products is often aligned with a “gross” or “unclean” connotation, which can also affect one’s ability to take care of themselves and their hygenial and menstrual needs, especially in an educational institution.
One respondent said, “I wouldn’t have to worry about grabbing supplies discreetly from my bag, as it distracts me from learning. If there are supplies available when I’m caught off guard, I’d be able to stay in school instead of bleeding through and possibly going home.”
Traditionally, if schools provide these necessities, they are often put in places that are inconvenient for students, or in places that are not discrete or able to be accessed easily during the school day.
“Having period products in every bathroom makes things so much easier,” one student said. “You don’t have to search for a friend to get anything from and you don’t have to run to the locker room or nurse’s office, which could make things worse. All of the stuff is right there, and it makes sure girls spend more time in the classroom focusing on their education rather than worrying about finding a pad or tampon.”
By providing accessibility for these products, students can not only spend more time in the classroom and feel more comfortable knowing that they are available if they are needed, but their school attendance may also improve.
According to Global Citizen, “without access to proper education, resources, girls are often forced to stay home from school during their periods. This leads them to miss anywhere from 10-20% of school days. Sometimes, they drop out of school completely.”
Not having access to menstrual and personal hygiene products can also lead to an influx in anxiety, as students are surrounded by their peers, and are often subject to bullying and harassment regarding their appearance.
One student said, “Having these products available will be beneficial so that people won’t freak out when needing these items, when they don’t have them.”
As the need for access to menstrual products continues, some individuals have taken it upon themselves to create entire brands based around the subject, in an attempt to alleviate some of the effects that “Period Poverty” causes.
August Cereal, founded by Nadya Okamoto, is a brand that strives to provide menstrual products to those who cannot afford to choose between feeding themselves or their families and providing the necessary products for their health. In every box of their cereal comes menstrual products. They are also an eco-friendly brand, that ships, packages, and creates their products with compostable and biodegradable materials. According to August, “Most Pads take 500-800 years to decompose, while ours take twelve months,” which is one of the leading contributors to pollution, considering the astronomical demand. In addition to their edible products, they also sell their environmentally friendly menstrual products alone.
Here at our school, with the creation and enactment of this personal care station, we hope to provide necessary products for all students, at all times. Because of the inherent and excessive cost of menstrual products, we have created a donation box, located in the counselor’s office, where anyone who wishes and is able to donate for the cause, has a place to donate their own or newly bought items. The only requirement for these items is that they are unopened, something of use, and are similar to or are one of the items listed below. Some of the items that are in high demand and would be greatly appreciated include: unopened deodorant, disposable lotions and toothpaste, travel size toiletries, all sizes of panty liners, pads, and tampons. These items will be available for students in the bathrooms, and they are meant to be used as they are needed, sparingly, and not taken out of desire. We ask that if the item is that of, or similar to, a bottle of lotion etc. that can be used several times, be used only in the bathroom and returned to where it was after use.