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November 9, 2021
GUEST BLOG: This blog is written by Rebecca Price. She is a member of United Way’s GenNEXT, a group of young professionals who have a passion for using their skills and talents to make a difference in the lives of others through United Way.
How do you explain periods to a four-year-old? Why would you want to?
A few weeks ago, I took my son, Jackson, to Remedy Café on Whyte Avenue. We were coming from a ball tournament, and I wanted to check out the menstrual product drive that they were hosting (I think Jackson just wanted a smoothie).
Remedy Café is one of the many businesses within the Strathcona Business Association that is taking action against period poverty. They partnered with United Way’s GenNEXT Committee for the month of October to take part in the Period Promise campaign to address the barriers and stigma associated with access to period products for menstruating individuals. Period poverty occurs when someone lacks the menstrual products they need, and it’s a more common issue in our community than you probably think.
GenNEXT’s purpose is to bring together the next generation of philanthropists to help create pathways out of poverty for local people. The goal of the Period Promise campaign is not only to raise funds and collect products, but to also raise awareness about the need. Back in 2018, an organization called Plan International Canada surveyed 2,000 cis women under 25. A full third said that they struggled to afford menstrual products and 83% said their period prevented them from fully participating in their usual activities.
I’ve been volunteering with GenNEXT this year because I believe in their mission. I think that if you have the means to help others, you have a responsibility to do so. Build a longer table, not a higher fence. In the past few months, I’ve spent a fair bit of time explaining what I do as a GenNEXT committee member to my friends, my colleagues, my ball team, and my son.
Explaining Period Products
to My Son
For anyone who hasn’t spoken to a four-year-old recently, they LOVE asking questions! Funny questions, peculiar questions, big questions; sometimes, you don’t know where to start. But this is part of the process of growing up and learning about the world around you. Period poverty is an issue that flies under the radar largely because there’s still a stigma around talking about menstruation. So, when Jackson asked me what the pads were for and why we were dropping them off at a coffee shop, I told him.
“These are part of something that happens with Mommy’s body every month,” I told Jackson. “I need them, and there are other people who can’t get what they need each month. So, we’re giving these away to help!”
At four years old, he understood perfectly. And with a smile, he then asked, “Do I get a smoothie now?”
United Way’s GenNEXT committee has collected over 500 menstrual products and over $1,500 so far to provide access to menstrual products to help those in need. That’s enough to support almost 250 people with 3 months of supplies. United Way of the Alberta Capital Region will distribute the donations to their network of more than 50 partner organizations across the region.
I share this story because not being able to support yourself during your period is nothing to be ashamed of. And to get to a place where no one has to deal with period poverty, we’re going to need to help one another. Jackson loves helping, so I think we’re off to a good start.