Wednesday, June 19, 2024

No Shame. Period. Bringing Awareness and Advocacy to Menstruation

Volunteers assembling period packs at a recent event. (No Shame. Period.)

WILLIAMSBURG — Wanting to inspire her kids to give back, Laura Lowry scoured Pinterest to find an age-appropriate project for her children to take part in.

With her kids headed back to in-person school after the pandemic, Lowry discussed menstruation with her then-nine-year-old daughter, knowing that its onset could take place anywhere from age nine to 14.

“I was thinking about things to do to get my kids ready to go back to school after homeschooling for 2021. I started looking up back-to-school ideas for nine-year-olds on Pinterest and down that rabbit hole, I stumbled onto period packs. They looked cute and simple and very easy to make! Even though she hadn’t learned about it in family life, she and I had discussed periods, as I knew kids at school may be starting and I wanted to let her know it was normal and natural,” Lowry says.

Originally planning on just making ten to donate towards her daughter’s school, Lowry thought that access to menstrual products might be a common issue across WJCC Schools. She reached out on a WJCC parent Facebook page and found that many other parents could relate and offered to help.

“No Shame. Period. is about tackling a problem head-on that so many students worry about unnecessarily while addressing the fact that it is absolutely okay to talk about these kind of things and seek more information if you think something’s wrong or you just want to learn more about your body,” Lowry explained.

The No Shame. Period. kits come with a teen-sized pad, new underwear, a plastic baggie, an individually wrapped wet wipe, and a note of encouragement. Packs are assembled by volunteers.

Lowry knows that menstruation can be a tough subject to discuss, but believes that it should be nothing to be ashamed of.

“It’s absolutely crazy that in the 21st century, there is still so much shame and stigma associated with something that 50% of the world experiences. Since menstruation usually begins between the ages of nine and 14, it is no surprise that many students have had at least one negative experience with menstruation while in school. As a society, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to erasing so much of the negativity that comes with such a normal, natural occurrence as menstruation,” Lowry said.

Packs ready for delivery. (No Shame. Period.)

The No Shame. Period. team hopes to continue to maintain funding so that period packs are readily available in every elementary and middle school, while also providing access to pamphlets and clean pants in nurses’ offices.

To date, Lowry and her team of volunteers have delivered over 6,575 period packs to 302 schools in the Hampton Roads area. They also have another 100 ready to deliver to schools on the eastern shore.

Lowry hopes to bring a sense of normalcy when discussing menstruation.

“My sincerest hope is that these girls will feel better prepared, and possibly feel like this is something normal and natural, the way menstruation should be viewed,” Lowry says.

The public can help Lowry with her mission in many ways.

“We need people to deliver to the school, people to make encouragement cards, people to share the project with their PTA group or Girl Scout lead or company that might want to donate! We need people to make phone calls. We need people with legal/nonprofit paperwork experience. There are so many jobs that involve time and energy but not money,” Lowry said.

To learn more or to become a volunteer, visit noshameperiod.org.

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