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We Need To Talk. Period.

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A bit of back story – 9 Months ago, I gave birth to my baby girl. I wrote my birth story and then decided to take a break to spend more time enjoying my new family of four.

I’ve since joined Baby Sensory, just as I did with Alex, I’ve had time to catch up with friends and I’ve planned a bit content. And this first piece I am incredibly excited to share with you! I wanted to post this a lot sooner but circumstances beyond my control have led me to taking a much longer break than I had originally planned.

But here it is!

A friend of mine is Leader at the Girl Guiding groups in Wem, Shropshire. Between herself, Lorraine, Lesley and Tash, they coach a few groups of amazing girls teaching them and helping them earn their Guiding badges.

I was invited along to one of their sessions to take some photos, interact with the girls and see what goes on.

This particular session that I went along to was the girls working towards their ‘Period Poverty’ Badge. This intrigued me for various reasons. One is because I will admit to being a bit naive about how there are women and girls out there who simply cannot afford sanitary wear and two, because I really wanted to know how much young girls are being taught about periods and how it affects every girl and woman.

The session was started by splitting the girls into 2 groups of mixed ages. Each group was given a sheet of paper – one group had the word ‘Open’ and the other had the word ‘Private’. The goal was to write down any topic that they would keep private or talk openly about to their friends and parents.

This was the outcome:

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Private

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Open

It really surprised me how open these girls would be on certain subjects that I wouldn’t have dreamed about discussing when I was their age (god I sound old). But that didn’t surprise me as much as what they said they would keep private. Mental health for one. I have been really open about my own mental health on social media and I hope that others who are also suffering feel they can talk to a friend or family member as the stigma surrounding this slowly changes. Periods were also on this list and they really shouldn’t be.

The girls moved on to actually discussing periods and what they know about them. Their age differences definitely showed during this activity. I felt the older girls knew infinitely more than the younger girls. Whether this is down to not talking about periods with parents or friends or even teachers, or whether these girls just don’t want to talk about it I don’t know, but that needs to change. And that’s sort of the point of this post.

The girls moved on to a really fun activity where they were split into 4 groups, each group being given a different ‘period product’ and asked to sell that product Dragon’s Den style! This proved to be extremely silly and also informative. They were asked to sell Tampons, Sanitary Towels, Sanitary Towel Holders and a Menstrual Cup (Mooncup kindly sent the Guiding Group a cup to investigate which had a hole punched in the side so the cup could not be used for hygiene reasons). None of these girls had heard of a Menstrual Cup before, but seemed very much open to the idea! 

After some more discussion, debate and a True or False game, the girls earned their Period Poverty Badge, and as an honorary guide for the night I got one too!

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The activities the girls took part in made me realise how little menstruation is talked about. It really makes me question why. In the end, the girls really opened up talking about this taboo subject. They discussed how others aren’t as lucky as they are as we have access to sanitary wear and cleansing products to keep us all hygienic. They discussed something called The Red Box Project. This is where red boxes are being put up in schools where sanitary towels are placed so that if a girl is ever caught off guard or if they simply an not afford sanitary towels, then there is always something there they can use, free of charge.

A massive congratulations goes out to all of the girls who earned their Period Poverty Badge and to Brown Owl Katie and the other leaders, Tash, Lesley and Lorraine, who got these girls talking openly about something that is too frequently thought of as a ‘taboo’ subject. Girl Guiding is such an amazing thing to do and there are so many new badges on a variety of subjects, including the Be Well Badge and the Skills for my Future Badge

I’ll be hunting down a Rainbows, Brownies & Guides group near me when Ellie is old enough to join!

Have you ever been a Girl Guide or is do you have a daughter who is a Girl Guide? Let me know in the comments!

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