What started as a project in two sections of a public health course at William Paterson University led to the collection of more than 2,500 feminine hygiene products that were donated last month to the University’s Pioneer Pantry and the New Jersey Reentry Cooperation.
Each semester, as part of the Disparities in Health courses that she teaches, associate professor of public health Naa-Solo Tettey creates a service learning project for her students. In the spring 2020 semester, she implemented a project on menstrual equity, called “Period Power.”
“I decided on this project after listening to interviews of formerly incarcerated women, who shared the horrors that women face in prison with rationed maxi pads ad tampons—sometimes one pad or tampon per day—and the difficulty in obtaining these products once released,” Tettey explains. “I conducted more research and realized this is a major issue and emerging movement throughout the country, not only for formerly incarcerated and homeless women, but also for women and girls from various backgrounds.”
The professor subsequently wove the topic of menstrual equity into her Disparities in Health course teachings and assignments, and then presented the idea of a voluntary donation drive.
Students in her two course sections began soliciting donations from family and friends; the Public Health Club, for which Tettey is advisor, got involved, too, and soon, students and faculty from across the department of public health and WP campus at large began donating—for almost an entire year.
Just last month, in December 2021, Tettey wrapped up the project after collecting 2,100 maxi pads and 690 tampons. About three-quarters of the donations were delivered to the University’s Pioneer Pantry, with the rest benefitting the New Jersey Reentry Cooperation’s branch in nearby Paterson, New Jersey.
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