By 1st Alexandra Park Guides
After finding out about all things menstruation for their period poverty badge, the mini-babes of the 1st Alexandra Park Guides wrote us a guest blog post to share what they've learned.
When Girlguiding announced the release of their new End Period Poverty badge, myself and my co-leaders knew immediately that it was something we wanted to work on with our north London Guides unit. The badge was created in collaboration with WaterAid, with the aim to educate and end stigma around periods, as well as raising awareness of global period poverty; this an issue we felt passionate about and wanted to share with our Guides.
1st Alexandra Park Guides’ unit is currently made up of 24 girls aged 10 to 13, and when we first started the badge, there was an cry of “Ewwwww” from a number of the Guides, along with some stifled giggles and red faces… but by the end, we were able to have open discussions about periods in our unit and they were asking questions without embarrassment (and too many giggles) – we’d take that as a win!
Over 4 weekly meetings the unit covered period truths and myths. We answered questions from the girls, they named as many period euphemisms as they could, and learned about all the different period products available. They also customised period packs to go in their school bags, and discussed period poverty and how it affects people around the world. We then held a period party where we played ‘Pin the Ovaries on the Uterus’, provided by the amazing Lauren of Killing Venus who was our guest of honour for the night! The girls brought along contributions of products for Bloody Good Period and we laid out the products they collected so they could see just what a difference they had made!
When Bloody Good Period asked the girls to put together a post about their experience, they were super excited! They separated into their patrols (Daffodils, Shamrocks, Roses & Thistles) and reflected on the badge, and on Bloody Good Period as a charity.
Here’s what 1st Alexandra Park Guides had to say:
What did you know about periods and how did you feel before starting the badge?
“I wasn’t too sure about periods and I didn’t feel that sure on the topic” – Lola, 10
“I knew a bit but I wasn’t too comfortable talking about it” – Arielle, 10
“We knew very little about periods and felt quite awkward about it” – Roses patrol
What did you learn when working towards the badge?
“I learnt that many people have to create poor substitutes of products like socks” – Calypso, 11
“I learnt that some females can’t afford to have products and have to miss school” – Olivia, 10
“We learnt that it is extremely hard for girls around the world who don’t have the right things. This can lead to missing out on school because it is so bad, which means if they don’t get an education it will be hard to get a job” – Daffodils patrol
“I learnt that the period poverty charity was really important and it should be supported.” – Leila, 12
“I learnt what a period was. I learnt what to do when I have my period.” – Lola, 10
What was your favourite part of the Period Poverty badge?
“I enjoyed the party we had (period themed)” – Iris, 11
“[We] liked working towards the badge because it is learning about girls/women like us, and how to speak out” – Daffodils patrol
“I really enjoyed decorating the period packs we were given. I did enjoy working towards the badge and I’m glad I did it.” – Arielle, 10
“My favourite part was doing the role-play when we acted out a situation when a period problem happened. I enjoyed working towards the badge as well.” – Rosie, 11
“Our favourite part of the badge was learning about a problem that we didn’t know existed. We enjoyed working towards this badge because it’s important to be aware if problems that can affect you.” – Roses patrol
Were you shocked to find out about the problem of period poverty in the UK and around the world?
“I was very shocked, I didn’t expect it” – Iris, 11
“We were shocked because we thought it happened just in poor countries, however the UK is quite a rich country and there are still problems here. This shows how big a problem it is” – Daffodils patrol
“I was really shocked about the period poverty. I was most shocked about the ratios of how many people missed school because of periods.” – Rosie, 11
“The thing that shocked me was how expensive the period products were. The prices suggest it’s a luxury when really it is necessary!” – Hannah, 10
“What shocked us most was that women or girls weren’t accepted, just for something they can’t help!” – Roses patrol
How did you feel about collecting period product donations for Bloody Good Period?
“I think Bloody Good Period charity is really important and I really want to volunteer there when I’m older because it’s just so important.” – Rosie, 11
“I will carry on donating because it was great and interesting” – Olivia, 10
“I think it is great that people acknowledge and support this cause” – Calypso, 11
“[We] think that the things the charity do are good because everyone should have the right things and they are making sure it happens.” – Daffodils patrol
“I think that they’re a really good charity for helping young girls and women. I’m glad that the period products I collected went to a good cause.” – Leila, 12
“It made me feel happy because I know that I’m making people’s lives better. The charity is a good charity because they really care about young women and girls.” – Lola, 10
What do you think you can do to help end Period Poverty and the stigma (shame) around periods?
“Spread the news about it” – Iris, 11
“Keep people talking and help them understand it” – Calypso, 11
“Help people understand by speaking out” – Olivia, 10
“I think we should make period products free and easier to access. If they can’t be free, they should be much cheaper” – Hannah, 10
“I think we should talk more openly about it and have an actual lesson for all schools so boys and girls can learn about how to deal with it” – Leila, 12
“[We] think we can help by raising money for period poverty and not be afraid to talk about it” – Roses patrol
“[…] now we want to spread the word!” – Daffodils patrol
Do you feel more confident about periods since achieving the badge?
“I now feel more comfortable talking about periods and I am ready for mine!” – Calypso, 11
“Now I won’t be scared when I have mine” – Iris, 11
“Now I feel more comfortable about periods and when I get mine I’ll be able to talk about it” – Olivia, 10
“Yes because [we] feel more comfortable talking about periods at Guides” – Daffodils patrol
“I don’t feel that confident about it but I do have a few people I can talk to about it. The people are my Mum and also all the Guides” – Lola, 10
“I think the period poverty badge was a really good idea because some girls don’t feel comfortable talking about periods, but I know that in our patrol we all feel comfortable talking about periods” – Hannah, 10
“I feel much more confident about periods because of all our discussions […] they feel less scary. I can talk to my Mum and my family really, and also the Guides!” – Arielle, 10
“I think I definitely know what to expect when I start my period and I feel comfortable talking about it, especially with the Guides. They feel more normal now” – Rosie, 11
“[We] feel more confident about periods, and can talk about them more openly” – Roses patrol
Overall, the girls loved working on the period poverty badge and learning more about themselves and their bodies. Elsie, 11, says “This badge is so fun and educational!”, whilst Molly, 11, said that “it was very interesting to learn about periods!”.
We had such a lot of support from the parents too, with Olivia’s Mum Debbie saying: “I fully support this because it opens the girls’ eyes to other people’s lived experiences."
Lola, 10, suggested that “…there should be a national period poverty day where we raise money [and] awareness of women and young girls that are less fortunate than us.” – we have since learnt out that Menstrual Hygiene Day is on May 28th, and the Guides will be planning an event to celebrate it!