How can your experiences help build a stronger community? What action steps can you contribute that will help inform, educate, or bring people together in our quest for a stronger community that embodies belonging for all?
Tampons sparked Kindness within Community
It is not easy explaining to someone that tampons have led me to better my community. I have lived in Livonia my entire life, and I have learned there are countless opportunities to become involved in the community. If someone were to ask a Livonia resident how they could contribute to this community, they may respond by saying “connecting with people, learning new perspectives, or attending different events.” On the contrary, my response would be my effort to end period poverty at my high school. To me, the most invigorating feeling is bringing awareness to a topic that is often frowned upon.
Despite having an answer to this question, it took time to develop this answer. During my time at LPS, it has consisted of complaining about homework and hitting snooze on my alarm each morning. Viewing school as a burden was a common feeling among my peers, and I wanted to break the cycle. Once high school came, I made it a priority to find my passions and see how I can uplift others through these acts. As days passed, I became more aware of the society around me, and the frustrations that came along with it. I realized an issue that stuck with me since the age of 10 years old, is the lack of menstrual products and the stigma attached to it.
To best benefit my community, I put my passion into action by doing more research on period poverty. As I began to dive deeper into this subject, it became apparent to me that I was not the only person who forgets to keep tampons on hand and has trouble affording them. When it was brought to my attention that 40% of the students at my school are living under the poverty line, a wave of frustration hit me. My thought process was: “Tampons and pads are essential items that may be difficult to obtain, it is crucial we have accessible products for those who cannot afford them.” Through more exploration, I came across an organization called The Pad Project. In July of 2022, I applied for a grant and ended up winning $1,000 to provide free menstrual products at my school. In addition to this, I have partnered with the Galencher-Nagy Foundation and have purchased 4,000 tampons, 4,000 pads, and 3 dispensers to place in bathrooms throughout my high school.
Through these efforts, I have brought a community of girls together who were often ashamed and anxious during the time of their period. Now, girls can go into any of Franklin’s bathrooms and get a product they need with no stress and at no cost. But this project did not end at Franklin High School, it has outreached to schools across the Metro-Detroit area and I have been showered with love and support from girls across the state. Surprisingly, tampons really can create a more kind and inclusive world.
As expressed, there is no clear answer as to what someone can do to better their community, it solely depends on one’s aspirations and core values. This experience of building a stronger community has enhanced my leadership skills to an unimaginable degree. I am more than fortunate for this opportunity to help hundreds of girls at my school and network with different organizations. This project has eased the dreadful 6 am wake-up call and has shown me that school has so much more to offer than studying for exams. All we must do is find our passion.
By: Emma Apap, Franklin High School