The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is ahead of the province when it comes to supplying hygiene products to female students.
A recent initiative started by the New Westminster School District to seek funding to provide free tampons and pads to female students as a health initiative has sparked discussion with the Ministry of Education to make this a province-wide program, supported further by a campaign the United Way is undertaking surrounding International Women’s Day on March 8.
According to stats provided by the United Way, one in seven Canadian girls have missed school due to a lack of availablke hygiene products. In addition, 60 per cent of community support organizations surveyed say they have been asked to provide tampons to families who could not afford them for children and almost a quarter of families surveyed said they sometimes struggled to provide them for their child.
Upon hearing of these initiatives, School District #83 conducted a survey to determine if there was a need to undertake a similar initiative, finding that local schools were already well-prepared to meet the needs of female students.
“I saw an article about the New West Board’s decision, but I have not heard of this leading to an increased interest from our students as of yet. At the request of a committee, I actually recently surveyed our middle and secondary schools regarding the availability of tampons. All of them responded that tampons were available at each office and from at least one other adult in the school, typically a school counsellor,” says Superintendent Peter Jory.
The district has made a point about being forward-thinking when it comes to student health, including the creation of a Health and Wellness Centre at the Salmon Arm Secondary Sullivan Campus which provides students with resources for medical and mental health issues that may be uncomfortable to discuss openly. Hygiene products are provided using funds for supplies available to all schools in the district.