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California teen launches ‘Tampon Tuesdays’ to collect menstrual items for women in need

With help from The Allstate Foundation and WE, a local high school senior is leading a movement to restore dignity to women in her community.

Carmel High School senior Clementine Chamberlain started tampon drives to help women in her community access important hygiene items.

Over the summer, I helped my school club and nonprofit organization This Club Saves Lives put together backpacks full of school supplies for homeless youth in our community. One item that had been donated were little bags intended for holding pencils and pens. They reminded me of the pouch my mother gave me in the fifth grade to discreetly keep my menstrual pads. This got me thinking about two things: I wondered why we as girls have always been taught to keep our period products hidden away in our shirt sleeves or in cute bags. I also had the realization that these homeless students in our area may be lacking access to tampons and pads, because they are an expensive necessity.

After doing some more research, and learning that tampons and pads are the most needed yet least donated items to homeless shelters, I proposed “Tampon Tuesday” to This Club Saves Lives, and the members were on board with the idea of an ongoing menstrual product drive. The drive quickly turned into a campaign to end the stigma around periods and the way we approach—or rather the way we avoid—the subject as a whole.

 

The first step was educating my classmates and campus staff about this lack of access that low-income girls and homeless women face. At first, students and some teachers were hesitant to approach the subject and a couple teachers didn’t want anything to do with the donation boxes I was passing out. This just made me want to show how important this issue is. Through social media and presentations, I was able to shed light on some shocking stats about this issue.

Girls in the United States can miss up to five days of school per month if their family cannot afford this product. Lobbyists in various states are working to make these products universally available in schools—especially those with a 40 percent or more poverty rate.

 

With support from The Allstate Foundation and the nonprofit WE, students at Carmel High School in California collect tampons and pads for women in need.

Many homeless women who cannot afford these products resort to using socks, rags, or paper towels; on top of that many do not have access to showers or places to wash their clothes. This can lead to infections and it makes it harder for these ladies to get on their feet and feel confident in themselves. This lack of cleanliness is completely stripping them of their dignity, making this a human rights issue.

Not only can you not use food stamps to purchase tampons and pads, these products are subject to sales taxes, whereas other personal care items, like lip balm and dandruff shampoo, are not. People call this the pink tax, touching on the fact that period products are a necessity yet in most states they are taxed as luxuries.

Last month, I presented Tampon Tuesday at the California State Leadership conference at the middle and high school events to over 400 students. The feedback and love I received from students who are passionate about their communities was a great feeling. In September, my Tampon Tuesday project will be recognized at #iCanHelp’s Digital4Good event hosted by Facebook. By continuing to share my message and call more students to action, I hope I can inspire others to find an issue they are passionate about to focus in on in their communities.

Through the use of social media sites, school video bulletins, the support of the WE Movement and The Allstate Foundation, we have been able to grow this important conversation and inform and help community members. So far, we have donated over 10,000 period products to various shelters and outreach programs. While this is an incredible accomplishment, I am just as proud of the way my school is now able to openly talk about tampons. After this year long drive and my involvement in This Club Saves Lives for three years, I am proud of the legacy I will be leaving when I graduate in June—I’m also totally okay with forever being known as “The Tampon Girl.”

Clementine Chamberlain

Clementine Chamberlain

Carmel High School

Clementine Chamberlain is a senior at Carmel High School in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

 

Clementine and Leigh talked about tampons with the guys on Pub Talk on KRML.

Another successful WEDay trip is in the books!
We kicked off the trip at Patagonia Headquarters in Ventura to learn more about how that company is improving the environment. Then we stopped in Century City for dinner and a boxing class at GloveWork. Leigh met up with Ryan from School of Thought Podcast and recorded a podcast you can checkout later this year.
On Thursday was WE Day! This year hosted by the awesome Neil Patrick Harris. Clementine was interviewed for some WE promotional material and was surprised by Kamaro from Queer Eye on Netflix.
A trip to LA is never complete without an inspiring visit with Evan at Thirst Project (and then a mandatory visit to Milk Jar 🍪😍). For the third eye we volunteered at Baby2Baby, this time in their new warehouse! We were able to finally drop off those blankets we’ve been making all year (thank you to all club members for that!).
On our way back to Carmel High School we stopped at PATH and dropped off the period packs we made during our last #TamponTuessay event sponsored by Allstate   Foundation and then a quick “hike” up to the Griffith Observatory.
Thank you to everyone who made this trip happen! A shout out to our wonderful discovery bus driver Raul, the amazing people at the Courtyard Westside, and all of our chaperones!

WE Day update! We have been given tickets so everyone can go! We will meet at school at 8am on Wednesday, April 24. We will return by 6pm on Friday, April 26. We will be taking a charter bus.
Please join the WE Day remind by texting @2019WEday to 81010
We will be visiting the Patagonia Headquarters, volunteering at Baby2Baby, visiting the Thirst Project offices, and attending WE Day. We also have a few other plans in the works!
There may also be an optional boxing workout at Gloveworx for those of you interested. The cost for the workout is $20. It is REALLY fun and an amazing workout. Check out their website to see it in action. Let me know if you want to do it. If we get enough interest they will set up an intro class for us.
What I need from you as soon as possible:
  • $250 cash or check payable to CHS ASB
  • CUSD form attached
  • Baby2Bbay form attached
  • Complete the Gloveworx online form and let me know if you want to take the boxing class. $20 will be collected later.
  • Select your WE Day lunch order here.
The plan is to have breakfast available at the hotel. I am still working on the hotel logistics but we should be staying at the same hotel as last year, Courtyard by Marriott Westside in Culver City. We will also have lunch catered at WE Day. All other meals will be your responsibility.

WE Day is filmed and you may end up on TV. By walking into the venue you are giving permission for them to possibly use your image on the national broadcast in August.

Link to WE Day forms.