Students Champion Free Period Products at Local School
On International Women’s Day, four incredible young women realized their goal of helping their fellow students.
Palisade High School junior Ivana Ceballos, and seniors Emma Aubert, Charlie King, Mallory Cawood set out to provide free menstrual products to all female students as part of their International Baccalaureate (IB) Creativity, Activity and Service (CAW) project.
Students in the IB program are tasked with developing an innovative, creative, and philanthropic project to give back to their community.
“It’s really important for all females,” said Ivana Ceballos. “We have to menstruate but not everybody has the ability to pay for period supplies.”
More than 8o% of women reportedly started their period in public without the supplies they needed. At Palisade High School, students described locating products like a game of scavenger hunt, relying on fellow students for help. While bathrooms had dispensers, the supplies cost $.25 and were decades past their expiration. The school nurse was often a last resort as supplies were paid for out of her own pocket.
“Some students are unwilling to come to the nurse's office because they were embarrassed, so we wanted to be able to give everyone access if they wanted to take advantage of it,” said Mallory Cawood.
Ivana Ceballos, also a volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center, asked the hospital to support their project.
“It seems like such a small thing, but we know it helps keeps young women in school and access to education is vital for our community to thrive,” said Gretchen Gore, VP of Mission Integration at St. Mary’s Medical Center. “We are so incredibly proud of these young women and their work to help their fellow students.”
St. Mary’s donated four feminine hygiene product dispensers – one for each bathroom at Palisade High School – that will be filled with free menstrual products for students.
“Talking to other peers, they are so excited for these machines,” said Ivana. “This wouldn’t be possible without St. Mary’s.”
Supplies will cost about $5 a year per menstruating student. The students have raised an additional $400 to keep the dispensers stocked up for years to come. Charlie, Emma, and Mallory will graduate in May and leave behind a project that will continue to make a difference in the lives of their fellow students. Ivana, a Junior, is hopeful to continue the project, passing it along to fellow IB Program students in the coming years.
“This is really exciting and something to be really pride of,” said Mallory.
Part of St. Mary’s Medical Center mission is to address the most critical needs of the communities it serves; with emphasis on those who are poor and vulnerable. To learn more about how St. Mary’s gives back and supports Western Colorado communities, click here.