BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon-Upshur High School and middle school have been receiving free feminine hygiene products, thanks to one local businesswoman’s passion for the cause of menstrual equity.
Daya Masada Wright started the Period Positivity Project last spring when a bipartisan bill that would have provided free period products in middle schools and high schools statewide did not pass.
“When I realized that it had been defeated by failing to be heard, I took it upon myself to just take care of Upshur County girls,” Wrights said. “I contacted (Upshur County Schools Superintendent) Dr. Sara Stankus immediately as our superintendent, and she was on board, and I bought boxes of period products and I began stocking the bathrooms at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle and High School.”
“I visit them once a week to refill them with period products,” Wright added.
According to a recent New York Times article, menstrual equity is term for equal access to hygiene products and a push to educate people about reproductive health.
The Period Positivity Project is self-supported by Wright, but she said it’s received several notable donations.
“I’ve had some really lovely donations,” Wright said. “Almost Heaven CrossFit did a donation drive last spring for me, Miller’s Pharmacy made a large donation for me and then some mamas have made some donations, and then I have some coupon ladies who have also made some really great donations.”
She said the project is something a lot of students count on, so she is looking for community support.
“We have young ladies who might be unable to address a basic survival need, which is dignity during the menstruation process,” Wright said. “Period products are very expensive, and they’re not covered by food stamps. There are families where just owning the period products is a burden that needs to be overcome, so providing them for free in schools means that families who might have to use alternative means or girls who might be missing school, we alleviate that burden.”
She said there are also instances where students may be able to afford period products, but just might not have access to them when they’re needed.
“Periods are not always convenient, so it is not unusual for a family who can support and afford period products to have a family member find themselves in the restroom with a surprise need,” Wright said. “Having the products available means that the students are able to address their issue and get right back to class.”
Wright said now, she supplies tampons and maxi pads to six restrooms at the middle school and four at the high school.
“It’s been really fantastic,” she said. “I’ve had people who I don’t know contact me directly to tell me how it positively impacted their daughters. I had a lady reach out to me to let me know that her daughter got her first period at school. She addressed it with the free period products and took an extra free period product home with her.”
The project is also meant to help students miss less class by providing them with the products they need, where they need them.
“I’ve had Mamas tell me their girls count on it,” Wright said. “I’ve had teachers thank me because their female students are missing so much less class. Both of the principals have been phenomenally supportive – Mr. (Eddie) Vincent, Mr. (Michael) Lynch have been completely on board and supportive.”
She said she’s received requests to expand the program to elementary schools as well.
“I’ve been contacted by almost all of the elementary schools, which have asked me if I would expand to their fifth- and fourth-grade classrooms because young ladies are getting their periods earlier in life,” Wright said. “But since I’m just me, and visiting two schools, is as much as I can personally take on.”
“The idea of adding seven more schools, who are such great distance from one another, is not something I can do yet,” she said.
Anyone interested in assisting Wright with the Period Positivity Project should contact her office directly at 304-472-0988.
In the meantime, Wright is planning a product collection, Menstrual Equity and Sweets Party that will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 8 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 12 N Kanawha St. in Buckhannon. The party will feature treats and discussion about menstrual equity in the state and community.