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Abington Heights students work to increase access to period products, applaud governor's attempt to do the same

Abington Heights Period club members, including senior Noor Rutty, junior Chloe Dong and sophomore Elise Phillips, organize donated tampons and pads to be divided into packages for women in need.
Aimee Dilger
/
WVIA News
Abington Heights Period club members, including senior Noor Rutty, junior Chloe Dong and sophomore Elise Phillips, organize donated tampons and pads to be divided into packages for women in need.

Gov. Josh Shapiro wants schools to stock feminine hygiene products in restrooms. Students in a high school in Lackawanna County are already working to ensure access and increase education around periods.

With classes done for the day, Abington Heights High School students huddled around cafeteria tables. Members of the school’s Period club packed care packages with pads and tampons donated by students and staff. It’s a regular activity since the club formed in 2018.

Senior Sarah Armstrong, the group’s president, helped coordinate the packing. The group meets regularly to educate themselves and others.

“Ultimately, I just think it's really important to change the narrative around periods and help people in our area, because it's a serious issue,” Armstrong said.

The Abington Heights club is a chapter of a national organization called Period. The national group found that about 1 in 4 teens have struggled to afford period products. Bags packed by the students will go to the Catherine McAuley Center in Scranton.

Junior Julianna Purcell serves as the club’s educational director. She works to provide a safe space for the teens to ask questions and get answers.

“If we as a society are all educated on it, then we can break the stigma around it and be able to talk freely about it, so no one feels alone in something that someone else might be feeling,” she said.

Abington Heights stocks period products in restrooms. The governor’s 2024-25 budget proposal calls for $3 million in state funds to make period products available at no cost to students. During his budget address this month, he said girls sometimes miss school because they don’t have what they need.

Period club members support the governor's efforts.

“I think that it's amazing and it should have been done a long time ago, but I'm happy that it's done now and other schools can be like ours,” Armstrong said.

After the students filled 50 bags, the group ate pizza and candy and listened to music. Junior Yanni Galanakis stapled the bags closed. He’s the group’s treasurer, the first boy to be an officer in the club.

“I'm just here to do my part and to help the best I can,” he said.

Sarah Hofius Hall worked at The Times-Tribune in Scranton since 2006. For nearly all of that time, Hall covered education, visiting the region's classrooms and reporting on issues important to students, teachers, families and taxpayers.

You can email Sarah at sarahhall@wvia.org