This story is a part of our RBC Future Launch Community Challenge (RBC FLCC) series, showcasing how youth are giving back and inspiring change by leading projects to address their communities’ needs.
Two Canadian youth are on a mission to end period poverty. Through the implementation of free pads and tampons at the public library, Project: Full Stop is working to make menstrual products more accessible to everyone who needs them.
Hailey McCullough and Bailey Randolph are both librarians at the Grande Prairie Public Library (GPPL) in Grande Prairie, Alberta. The library is an important place in the community, often serving as a safe place where at-risk and street engaged people can access much needed space, technology and resources.
With the support of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, Community Foundations of Canada, the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta and the Grande Prairie Public Library, McCullough and Randolph are giving individuals who menstruate, that are experiencing vulnerability, the opportunity to to access free menstruation products.
From the library to the community
When addressing the mission of the project, McCullough cites a 2018 Canadian gender study by Plan International that highlights how one in three Canadian individuals under the age of 25 have struggled to afford menstrual products.
Offering free pads and tampons in public washrooms at GPPL was the start of McCullough and Randolph’s mission to end period poverty, but the ongoing pandemic has inadvertently helped them get these products in the hands of different community members.
“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Grande Prairie Public Library had closed its doors to the public, cutting off our access to the public washrooms,” McCullough explained.
“We were able to reach out to a number of non-profit organizations in Grande Prairie and offer them sealed boxes of product so that we were still getting pads and tampons to those in town who needed them,” added McCullough.
Today in Grande Prairie, tomorrow the nation
Shifting from the library bathrooms as their main location has allowed McCullough and Randolph to observe additional changes in the community that have come with the increased demand for menstrual resources. McCullough has called the project a learning opportunity that has helped them better understand the needs of youth in Grande Prairie. In working with community non-profits, and coordinating deliveries to other locations, the youth leaders have learned more about the underlying issues that have led to an even greater demand for pads and tampons during the pandemic. Some of these issues include mental health, educational support, technology support, and social support.
“I think all over the country, because more youth are spending time at home, they’re experiencing more home issues that are leading to higher numbers of youth in emergency shelters. As a result, these shelters and local organizations are requiring more period products. I’m happy to be working with these organizations to donate the products they need, for the people who need them.”
McCullough has big dreams for the future of Project: Full Stop. Other organizations and libraries have already reached out to learn how they might be able to implement something similar and help to destigmatize the issue of period poverty.
“I’m hoping Project: Full Stop has a national impact, and brings a conversation forward to the government and legislature about reforming the Canada Labour Code to see period products as a necessary supply in all employee washrooms. I would love to see it in all public washrooms, but let’s start here.”
The RBC FLCC is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and community foundations from coast to coast to coast. The #RBCFLChallenge youth-led projects are supported by RBC Foundation’s contribution of $2.2 million.