Periods are a fact of life for many of us. So why do we shy away from the topic? Especially when the products we choose can have a huge environmental impact? We’re supporting Rethink Periods to give school children up-to-date information, so they can make informed choices. Partaking schools explain why they signed up and the impact the training is having for them.
What’s Rethink Periods?
Rethink Periods is a free educational programme for teachers and school nurses who work with primary and secondary schools at Key Stage 2 and 3 level. We’re supporting the campaign as part of our educational partnership with City-to-Sea, an environmental not-for-profit, tackling plastic pollution at source.
Because, as a society, we rarely talk about period products, we often ignore the impact they can have on the environment we share. However, if period products are flushed down people’s loos they can clog sewers, which can cause flooded homes and pollution to the environment. In 2021 alone, we suffered more than 22,500 blockages – half of these were caused by people flushing the wrong things down their toilets, including tampons, pads and wet wipes. Rethink Periods helps young people (and those teaching them!) understand the impact their choices can have.
Running the sessions has been a bit tricky, due to the pandemic. But uptake of the training has rocketed over the last 12 months. By the end of January 2022, over 200 schools in our region had taken part – and some have even booked for more colleagues to be trained after past attendees moved on or changed roles.
What’s got schools so enthusiastic about signing up?
Teachers and school nurses that completed the training were asked what they hoped to change about period education at their schools. Removing the stigma around periods was a priority, as “[the] more children that are aware the less embarrassed they will be about it”.
While another priority was to “ensure the children are exposed to a wider range of products”. Showcasing the options is a big feature of the training – all partaking schools receive their own free product demonstration box, containing plastic free disposable andrenewable period products to talk about in the classroom.
The eco-friendly alternatives reflect another reason some schools are putting their names down, which is “informing children of the environmental impact, creating a more respectful and positive environment where children feel comfortable talking about periods”
But what did they think of the Rethink Periods training?
The training’s received rave reviews. Asked what they’d say to another teacher about the sessions, one attendee stated, “There are no negatives to attending the course. It's a great way of improving knowledge and ways of delivering the topic of Periods to both boys and girls in school.”
But did the training deliver the change they wanted to see? The feedback suggests so, with one attendee commenting on the “inspirational and enthusiastic approach” and calling it the “most useful training I have attended for a while.”
So what impact has the training had for schools?
In terms of tackling the stigma around the topic of periods, the feedback speaks volumes. When asked how confident teachers and school nurses felt about delivering period education before and after the training, attendees reported a 34% boost in confidence. One attendee simply stated the training has “given me more confidence to teach Periods to students”. Bravo!
What about showcasing the range of period products available today? This was a highlight for one attendee who said it was “good to look through products and the advantages/disadvantages of each type.”
Meanwhile, the training has had a huge impact on attendees’ understanding of the environmental issues related to period products. Asked how aware they were before and after the training, attendees reported 40% greater awareness. This feature of the training definitely resonated with one attendee, who stated “I am on a mission to empower the community to make informed choices.” We salute you.
If you know a school that would be interested in signing up for this free training, email [email protected].
You can also find out more at rethinkperiods.org.uk.