When Fairfax High seniors Valencia Rodriquez and Maisie Curtin were looking for some extracurricular activities, they knew they wanted to do something that would make a difference in their community. And although their school offered a variety of clubs and groups, nothing seemed like it would make the impact they wanted.
But then, in her junior year, Rodriquez read about another school’s PERIOD Club and told her friend Maisie about it. PERIOD is a youth-led, global nonprofit that strives to end period poverty and reduce period stigma through advocacy, education and service.
With so many families in need nationwide – and in Fairfax County, too – parents often must choose to spend what little money they have on either food or rent. Menstrual products for their daughters don’t make the list of necessities.
Yet, of course, they are important necessities, and young women who lack access to them end up staying home and missing school during their time of the month, rather than being shamed or embarrassed in front of their classmates. Some haven’t even been given information about why they have periods.
So, hoping to rectify this situation – at least in their corner of the world – Curtin and Rodriquez attended online meetings together with the national PERIOD organization and filled out the required paperwork to start a chapter, themselves. As a result, Fairfax High has become only the second high school in the country to have a PERIOD Club.
“The club’s goals and mission really aligned with what we were trying to do to give back to our school and our community,” explained Rodriquez. “It was great connecting with other women and students across the country, and they made it really easy to start our own chapter at Fairfax.”
Now in its first full year, the PERIOD Club has garnered 15-20 active members and a solid leadership team to make sure it continues into the future. This was particularly important to Curtin and Rodriquez, since both are in their last year at Fairfax.
The club meets after school and works on projects together. The members have already organized a fundraiser to donate menstrual supplies to Bethany House, a nonprofit that provides services to survivors of domestic violence and their families.
Club members have also been active in Fairfax High events, getting out the word to fellow students about their goals and initiatives. And next month, the group will visit young students in nearby elementary schools.
“We want to be a safe place for them to ask us about any possible scenarios and to answer any questions they may have about what it’s like in middle and high school,” said Curtin. “We want them to feel good and secure about themselves, and we hope to help ease any fears they may have.”