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Like most girls my age, I had been thinking the whole year prior to my sixteenth birthday about what I wanted to do to celebrate. I wanted to do something big for a change and did consider having the traditional extravagant sweet sixteen party. What I didn’t love about this idea was how it would feel like a whole lot of hoopla for just me, and that felt a little uncomfortable. I also felt like a big day like that would come and go and then I would just be left feeling like we’d spent a lot of money on one afternoon. I figured it would be more exciting and satisfying to do something that would make an impact beyond this one special day.
I thought about all the different options that were out there. I considered doing something along the lines of volunteering, collecting food for the local food bank or making hygiene kits for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). The last one stuck and led me to Days for Girls.
A bit about Days for Girls: Days for Girls increases access to menstrual care and education by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. Their kits provide period care for women and girls for years and in many communities, Days for Girls supports micro-enterprise opportunities with their basic kit, DFG Pod (Portable Object of Dignity).
Days for Girls actually runs a club at my school. We meet on a weekly basis to cut and trace fabric to help make the reusable pads for feminine hygiene kits. When I first learned about Days for Girls, I remember thinking how incredibly innovative the kit was that they were putting together. Before joining the club, I never thought of the struggle it would be to live with your period in a developing country. It blew my mind that this was a cause that no one talks about, despite it’s monumental effect on girls’ futures.
What I love most about Days for Girls is that it provides a way for so many people to get involved at the very basic level of making hygiene kits. In Canada alone, there are 80 local chapters.
I decided to investigate the possibility of hosting a Days for Girls pad making party for my Sweet Sixteen. I talked to the teacher at my school who runs the club, who then connected me with the local Days for Girls chapter in my city. The local team supports our school club and were more than happy to help me organize my party idea. They even came to my house on the day of to give a presentation about Days for Girls. The eleven girls who were at my party had a similar reaction to mine in learning about Days for Girls and the challenges facing girls with their menstrual cycles in other parts of the world.
We got started, and it was such a blast! We traced and cut out fabric while chatting, eating, listening to music and watching funny videos; such a good time. I thought my friends might get tired of cutting and that we might need to stop and do something else, but everyone just wanted to keep going! In the end we used up all the fabric and counted out what we had made. I had hoped to meet a goal of 160 shield cutouts, but I thought that this might not be possible with the number of girls that were able to make it to the party. Nevertheless, we ended up cutting out 215 shields! My friends were also super generous, gifting $240 in honour of my birthday as a donation to Days for Girls which will help pay for the underwear and soap included in the kits Chapters and Teams put together around the world. Each Supreme Days for Girls kit includes: shields, absorbent liners, washcloth underwear, soap and a care and cleaning bag.
After my party, I was really fortunate to get to meet the rest of the women from the Days for Girls Kitchener branch to deliver the money gift and cutouts. These women meet twice a month, set up their sewing machines and assemble Days for girls Supreme its for those in need.
My Days for Girls Sweet Sixteen was all-round a very meaningful experience. I loved getting to hang out with the girls that are special in my life, while making a difference for girls like us across the world!