Why these women are offering 'period pouches' to young Islanders in need

Two Island women are offering free "period pouches" filled with feminine hygiene products to Islanders as the school year gets underway. 

The pouches also have instructions on how to use the products and how to dispose of them properly. 

Pouches range from the size of a pencil case to a small bag, and are designed to be discreetly put into a backpack.

Megan Beairsto and Kassidy Arsenault, the pair behind the idea, said they originally intended it to be part of the parent's back to school shopping list.

"It was just something that they could shove in their backpack really quick and if they need it, then it's there. And if they don't, then they can save it till next year or have it in case one of their friends needs it," said Beairsto.

The pair run a Facebook page, No Questions Asked Period, that collects donations of feminine hygiene products and distributes them to those in need anonymously. 

Arsenault and Beairsto posted about the pouches and said the response to the project was "tremendous." 

Travis Kingdon/CBC News

"I think I gave out about 50 total on Friday of last week and that was my first drop-off day," said Beairsto. 

"I've distributed about 25 so far," Arsenault said. 

The pouches are being picked up by parents or relatives of the children, said Beairsto. 

Not every kid has a pair of parents, or parents that are comfortable with even having the conversation with them. — Megan Beairsto

"If it happens, if they get their first period at school, they just want to make sure that that's an easy day for them," she said.

They said some teachers in schools around Summerside and Kensington have asked for pouches that they can keep in the classroom, just in case they have a student that needs one.  "Which is amazing, because they would know what kids might struggle with this and which ones wouldn't so much," Beairsto said.

Increasing access

The pouches are intended to increase the accessibility of feminine hygiene products for Islanders who may face barriers in getting them. 

"We have a lot of families that contact us that can't afford menstrual products every month," said Beairsto.

I don't see it stopping anytime soon. — Megan Beairsto

"Hearing stories from parents and young women, especially single mothers, who struggle to afford menstrual products every single month and knowing that's actually a problem," said Arsenault. 

The pair said they recognized how fortunate they have been in their own lives and that had an influence in their decision to offer the pouches. 

"We've never been without and we've had parents that are super honest and open about what was happening with our bodies," Beairsto said. 

"For us it was the realization of, we've had it so good, and we're so lucky, and we need to make sure that other people are having that experience as well."

Travis Kingdon/CBC News

The pouches are also for parents who might not be comfortable discussing menstruation with their children. 

"Not every kid has a pair of parents, or parents that are comfortable with even having the conversation with them about what's going to happen to their body and that's unfortunate, but it's the reality that we live in," she said. 

Continue into the future

Beairsto and Arsenault said initially they intended to hand out the pouches during the back to school season. But, with the overwhelming response they decided to continue offering the pouches. 

"We've had a tremendous amount of donations ... we have enough donations now we can continue this for the entire school year," said Beairsto. 

"I don't see it stopping anytime soon." 

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