December 13, 2023

Amaya’s Story: Ending Period Poverty in Schools

“Period poverty should not be taboo.”

How did you learn about GripTape, and what made you decide to apply? I was actually following someone who I believe is on the Youth Leadership Board. I heard about it close to the deadline, and I jumped right on it and applied. That was back in 2020. 

What topic did you pursue in your Learning Challenge?
My Challenge all started because I was with one of my clubs at school, and we were working at the food pantry. We were providing all kinds of things to stock the shelves, but no one thought to provide menstrual products. There’s a sense of shame or embarrassment around these products, and there shouldn’t be.

Why did you choose this Challenge?
I've always been passionate about women’s health and  helping other people. I wanted to do something different that most people weren’t stepping up to address. 

How did you approach your Learning Challenge? Throughout the 10 weeks, I purchased period products and containers, dropped them off, and spoke with students about menstrual health. 

How did you use your funding? With the $500 GripTape gave me, I started buying period products and containers to hold them.  

What did you set out to learn and what did you learn? I learned the importance of gratitude and a lot about health equity. My school is a Title 1 school so there was a lot of need. I saw there were people who missed class because they lacked period products, or they had to choose between these products and other necessities. 

What advice would you give young people who are thinking about applying? When applying, create your own mission or vision. Though you may not be trying to create a whole organization or movement, when you create a mission you have words of affirmation to go back to when you need to think about what to fund or what to do. I’m involved in a lot of activities inside and outside of school. Most of them have a  mission or vision, and I can see that this helps with groups when we’re at a meeting or event. You want something you can easily share with others and use to stay focused.

What impact did the Challenge have on you? It was a confidence boost. Even when there were problems, I still was able to have confidence because many people were coming to me saying, “This really helped,” or “I’m glad you addressed this issue.” When my plan was completed and the money was spent, I thought I’d done what I came to do. But my mom and others encouraged me to keep going. So, I continued on and got involved with state legislation. They have bills about menstrual dispensers in all Florida schools. I got interested in government and public service. I was talking at an event and this lawyer reached out to me and asked if there was something that could be done. She wanted to provide menstrual dispensers. I wanted the products to be accessible and available so that students can have dignity. The law firm and a school board member pitched in, and in October 2021 (a year later) menstrual dispensers were in all district schools.

Amaya is a high school senior who is applying to college and  interested in studying political science.