A local organization is supplying menstrual products to three schools in Winston-Salem to combat “period poverty.”
Carver High School Principal Thyais Maxwell explained what “period poverty” means at a press conference on Tuesday.
“People don't understand the cost that goes along with feminine care products or even just personal care items," she said. "And when you experience poverty, or when you have to make a decision about food, the price of gas, or these items, sometimes you're stuck in a really difficult situation.”
The Winston-Salem chapter of a volunteer service organization called The Links, Inc. decided to address this issue at local schools. Kathy Stitts, the president of the chapter, spoke about the problems young women face without access to menstrual products.
"There is lack of focus, there is lack of self-esteem, there is increased absenteeism, and they risk infections and increased health risks," Stitts said.
The organization has donated supplies to Carver, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy, and Winston-Salem State University.
Philo-Hill Principal Franchesca Gantt said she’s been purchasing feminine products for her students for the last 18 years. She said the donation of supplies will go a long way in mitigating barriers for middle school girls, but also making them feel supported.
“With such a touchy subject, for them to know that like, 'Hey, I can always go to Ms. Gantt and get something that I need.' That small thing bridges such a bigger bond with that student," she said. "So not only do we secure them for academic growth, but they also feel more secure at the school as if someone's got [their] back."
Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines was at the press conference where he recognized May 22-28 as Period Poverty Awareness Week.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.