When we started Lilypads, we took the basics of a menstrual health lesson into schools and in Edinburgh and asked for their feedback. We spoke to both younger students about what they wanted to know, and older students about what they liked and didn’t about their lessons on it.
They wanted to know what was happening; why was there blood, how much is normal, what causes pain, when is the average age to start and what are the different products and how do you use them. Many felt they’d learnt about hormone cycles and how periods fit into reproduction too early when they had little interest in it. We began planning lessons in building blocks that can be taught to students at different stages so they can access the information when they need – without overloading them.
Stigma and Bullying
The levels of bullying were shocking. From schools where the girls didn’t participate in PE in fear of leaks or their Sanitary product showing through their sports kit to schools where male students would routinely tip the female students upside down in search of sanitary products to tease them with – “she’s moody cause she’s on her period”. All the schools had bullying policies yet often the girls didn’t feel they could report period comments. However, change “on her period” to many other descriptions and it would have been. We’re now building in discussions on why it counts as bullying, how to report it and ways to reduce stigma.
Peer to Peer
Most students found menstrual health lessons from their teachers embarrassing. No matter how amazing the teacher, the students preferred a friend or older sister teach them. After lots of research, we found peer-to-peer teaching is not only good at imparting knowledge but also raises self-esteem. Consequently, we use a combination of training final year secondary year students and university students to teach in secondary schools.
We believe no one should be disadvantaged by their period
We’re now teaching in schools across the UK, helping women understanding their bodies and feel empowered to be in it. We’re always on the lookout for new volunteers and schools so if your interested please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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