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GHS students earn Girl Scout Silver Award with efforts to end “period poverty”

Lauren Campbell and Annaliese Austin Lauren Campbell and Annaliese Austin have a passion for community service and a desire to turn “period poverty” into “period prosperity.”

“Period poverty is when people struggle to get both food and the menstrual products they need,” Austin explained. “They either choose to get the period products, which can mean that they go without food, or they choose to get food, so they have to bleed openly once a month.”

Campbell and Austin, both freshmen at Grandview High School and members of Girl Scout Troop 64626, decided to tackle the issue of period poverty when they were eighth graders at Liberty Middle School, looking to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award.

“The Silver Award is the highest award Girl Scouts of our age can receive,” Campbell said. “It requires at least 30 hours of work and must create a lasting impact in our community.”

As middle school students, the problem of period poverty was right in front of them.

Lauren and Annaliese with dispenser "There’s a huge taboo around periods and people are embarrassed about them,” Austin said. “It’s hard to ask a teacher to go to the nurse’s office to get a pad. You don’t want to put it out there that you’re having your period because people can make fun of you.”

The two created a Redbubble shop online where they sell graphic designs on items ranging from masks to socks to T-shirts. They also created a GoFundMe account. To date, they’ve raised more than $1,200, enough to buy sanitary pad dispensers - that dispense pads for free - for all six girls’ restrooms at Liberty Middle School. 

But that wasn’t enough. They needed to stock the dispensers. Fortunately, Campbell participated in a conference in the summer of 2019 where she attended a panel discussion on menstrual equity.

“Menstrual equity is an umbrella term for different phenomena related to periods,” Campbell said. “Period poverty, the tampon tax and other issues.”

Sanitary pads donated by Always One of the panelists was from Always, the feminine hygiene products company. Campbell searched for her on LinkedIn, then contacted her to discuss the possibility of a donation. Always offered to donate 75,000 sanitary pads, which were delivered to Liberty on March 5. Assistant Principal Angie Hale, who worked with Campbell and Austin for more than a year, said the two are making a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of Liberty students.

“For girls who are trying to figure out how to talk about their periods and how they’re maturing, it means everything,” Hale said. “Making this kind of impact - especially for a sixth grade girl who might be embarrassed - they’re just making their lives so much easier.”

“They are amazing,” added Principal Kevin Doherty. “I’m very, very impressed with them. All the credit goes to Lauren and Annaliese.”

Lauren and Annaliese with mothers and school staff The two are not done yet. Both plan to pursue their Gold Award, Girl Scouts’ highest honor, which must be earned individually. Austin wants to work to provide pad dispensers to the rest of the middle schools in the Cherry Creek School District. Campbell wants to work with Colorado legislators to remove the state’s “tampon tax.” Colorado is one of 33 states that still tax feminine hygiene products. They also want to continue to increase awareness and decrease the stigma associated with menstrual periods.

“Talking about periods is normal,” Campbell said. “It’s a regular bodily function and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it.”

Posted 3/11/2021