GUELPH – Every secondary and intermediate school in the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) will provide free menstrual products in school washrooms by March with the intention to extend the program to elementary schools and administrative offices as well.
The program is called Period Equity and falls within the board’s equity and inclusion initiatives.
“It’s no different than soap or toilet paper,” said Kevin Taylor, a member of the Upper Grand Learning Foundation, the group that initiated and gave start-up funding for the project.
“We identified a need here. If you don’t have a quarter, that’s a real problem. We don’t want anyone stuck in a stall embarrassed.”
Jessica Rowden, UGDSB’s equity lead, said it’s important to ensure that anyone can access menstrual products regardless of income or identity.
A lack of funds should not be a barrier to basic hygiene, she said.
Rowden said it has taken some time to research best practice and source accessible machines, but now the machines are being installed first in secondary school washrooms identified as “for use by all” and then into women’s washrooms.
The board will begin installing the machines in schools with Grade 7 and 8 students in March.
“We should have (the machines) in all K-6 schools by the end of the year,” Rowden said.
“We’ll also have them in board offices in Guelph, Orangeville and board learning spaces.”
Taylor said the cost will eventually be absorbed by the board’s operating budget but for now comes from the learning foundation.
He encouraged people to consider donating to the foundation as it undertakes more projects like this.
“None of this could happen without donations to the foundation,” he said.
“If you want to make a difference in the community, the Upper Grand Learning Foundation is a great way to do that.”
For more information on Period Equity in the UGDSB, please visit www.ugdsb.ca/equity.
For information about the learning foundtion, visit www.uppergrandlearningfoundation.com.