By Nicole Davis
Jenna Eickman has walked into a school nurse’s office in the past to find only three tampons left in a drawer. As co-founder and president of Project Period Indy, she wants to ensure that female middle and high school students have the products they need, which not only allows them to stay in school, but also to feel confident in themselves as they go about their day.
“It’s one of those things that sometimes girls feel they have to be quiet about,” Eickman said. “They’re nervous to say they don’t have these products. They don’t want to come to school if they don’t have these proper products. It’s a necessity. It should never be a reason girls are missing school.”
Project Period started in 2016 when co-founder and treasurer, Angie Katinas, came to Eickman, sharing how she learned that SENSE Charter School was always running out of menstrual products and the importance of having them available in the school.
“We started a nonprofit with no money, no experience,” Eickman said. “SENSE was the first school we donated to. Through word of mouth, we’ve grown a lot. We’re now at nearly 30 schools that we deliver to.”
Project Period partners with schools and social workers in the Indianapolis area to provide free feminine hygiene products to females who struggle financially. One of those schools is Perry Township. They started with just Perry Meridian 6th Grade Academy, Perry Meridian Middle School and Southport High School in 2017. In spring 2018, they began to provide for the entire district.
Many years ago, Perry Township Schools received a large donation of feminine hygiene products, which finally ran out last spring semester. Linda Sprowl, RN at Perry Township Preschool, is in charge of ordering nursing supplies for the district and said she learned that the program that provided those donations had ended. She purchased some items online and searched for a way to acquire donations.
“It would be something we would provide no matter what,” Sprowl said. “I’m glad we can have that available for girls so they don’t feel like it’s a big deal or be embarrassed about it. At this age, it’s all about self-esteem. It helps them to take care of themselves without having to call their parents, miss class time or go home. We can take care of their problem and get them back in class.”
Sprowl contacted Project Period in 2018. Within a week, they were given some supplies. Now, the nonprofit takes care of all of the needs for the district, Sprowl said.
Project Period uses a formula to determine how many products each school receives, based on factors such as the number of female students and how many are on the free and reduced lunch program.
“Throughout the semester we’ll see, ‘are you running out?’” Eickman said. “It’s hard to know exactly how many they’ll need. I wish we had enough to provide everyone in every school, but we don’t at this point. If they run out, we do our best to get them more.”
Project Period receives most of its donations through social media campaigns. It has an Amazon wish list so anyone can purchase products and send them to them directly. Those interested can learn more at projectperiod.org or facebook.com/projectperiodindy. (Submitted photos)