Students get long-term solution for period of poverty in school

Two students from South Canterbury on a mission to reduce menstrual poverty at their school hope to inspire others to do the same.

Aleisha Smith and Cat MacClure, both 17, with the help of teacher Justine Carson-Iles started Project Period to provide students at Mountainview High School with sustainable period products.

To date, they have raised enough funds to provide three pairs of period underwear to each student in need.

“We think three is a good number because it works with most people’s wash cycle,” MacClure said.

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“It was really great to hear from students who we have already distributed products to.

“I had a few people come up to me and say thank you,” she said.

The pair received a $400 voucher from The Warehouse, which they used to purchase reusable underwear for a trial run before launching their full project.

They said the trial, which they conducted at the end of the second term, allowed them to see how the project could benefit students.

After the students confirmed they liked the initiative, they sought to expand the project to more people, they said.

Project Period's Cat MacClure, left, and Aleisha Smith, both 17 at Mountainview Secondary School in Timaru, want to inspire other schools to offer reusable products to students.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Project Period’s Cat MacClure, left, and Aleisha Smith, both 17 at Mountainview Secondary School in Timaru, want to inspire other schools to offer reusable products to students.

They had since raised over $1,000 through their Go Fund Me page which was used to purchase the underwear.

The duo researched the brands and decided to spend the money they raised through crowdfunding on period care products from New Zealand brand AWWA.

AWWA was New Zealand’s first period-proof underwear company. The company was started by two mums, Kylie Matthews and Michele Wilson, in 2018 when they saw a gap in the market for locally made vintage products.

“We were able to work with them on buying a bulk order at a discounted rate, and we were lucky enough to be able to receive some as part of their donation of a pair (initiative) as well,” Smith said. .

“We placed an order for 75 pairs, and they suited us.

“Donated Pairs are older stocks through their ‘Donation of a Pair,’ where businesses and individuals can buy pairs and then AWWA donates them to people and groups in need.”

Cat MacClure and Aleisha Smith of Project Period will be able to donate three pairs of period underwear per student, thanks to the money they raised through crowdfunding and through the Donate a Pair initiative. AWWA.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Cat MacClure and Aleisha Smith of Project Period will be able to donate three pairs of period underwear per student, thanks to the money they raised through crowdfunding and through the Donate a Pair initiative. AWWA.

“We’re surprised to be on track to get to where we wanted to be, we’ve been able to get some products and start distributing them,” Smith said.

“We were hoping to distribute them by the end of the second term, but we’re all set to go on the first day of the third term, so that’s fantastic.”

Cat MacClure puts the finishing touches on one of their packages which was sent to a student on Monday.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Cat MacClure puts the finishing touches on one of their packages which was sent to a student on Monday.

The project has also had a positive impact on some non-binary students at the school, MacClure said.

“Some non-binary students were able to try on period underwear and change from traditional menstruation products,” she said.

“Some products don’t help people align with their gender identity, but if they use menstrual underwear, it’s like wearing underwear so it might feel a little more normal,” Smith said.

Cat MacClure and Aleisha Smith from Project Period with the reusable products they will distribute to their classmates.

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER / Stuff

Cat MacClure and Aleisha Smith from Project Period with the reusable products they will distribute to their classmates.

The sustainability aspect of the project and changing people’s mindset towards reusable products was something MacClure said she and Smith were very passionate about.

“We hope that by inspiring people to choose more durable menstrual products, if they ever have kids, they might think about reusable diapers,” she said.

“Things that are happening to try out poverty in times of combat are a start, we’re just building on that,” Smith said.

“We hope to inspire other schools in Timaru and the rest of the country.”

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