Six enterprising Ursuline Academy (UA) students have led an award-winning effort to “Change the Cycle” for hundreds of homeless and low-income women in Wilmington.
The student-driven project was part of an innovation curriculum at the Catholic girls school, whose motto – Serviam – means “I will serve.” Change the Cycle made feminine hygiene care products such as tampons and pads more accessible and readily available to those with limited or no access. The project team is working towards lessening the stigma that surrounds periods and the menstrual cycle.
These efforts caught the attention of judges at the Peace First Accelerator Conference hosted by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio in November, when “Change the Cycle” was awarded the Courage Award and a $1,050 grant to help the students expand their program to Kent and Sussex counties.
UA students Molly Clark, Riley Shahan, Maile Carberry, Mia Aube, Kylah Arnold, and Leslie Ramirez led a collaboration that began in October with several Wilmington high schools.
UA junior Molly Clark says having these products accessible to all can be crucial in helping to end a cycle of economic inequality. “Having access to pads can be the difference between someone being able to go to work or having to take a sick day, where they are not able to make money to be able to afford menstrual products for their next period,” she said.
Together with leadership students from Archmere Academy, Salesianum School, The Charter School of Wilmington, Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Mount Pleasant High School, and Concord High School, each of the schools hosted to host a product drive for unopened boxes of feminine care products for local organizations that serve homeless and low income families in Wilmington.
The schools collected thousands of items from students, parents, faculty, and staff that have already been distributed to local organizations in Wilmington that serve homeless individuals and low-income families.
To make the project sustainable, the students have contacted businesses to help generate ongoing supplies of donations. They hope to establish a steady supply of donations from businesses throughout the year.
On Monday, UA Director of Innovation Erin McNichol presented the Peace First Pro Football Hall of Fame award – a crystal football – to her team of students, who have found the experience to be rewarding.
“To be given the opportunity to learn more about peacemaking from so many knowledgeable young adults has been an extremely valuable experience,” said Clark. “I’m glad we will be able to teach more people about the important issue of accessibility to menstrual products.”