Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Kiwanis club helps students to ‘sit with confidence’

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2023 | 12:16 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
President of the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point, Indira Mangarweise (right), presents a box of sanitary napkins to  Judith Brown, guidance counsellor at Ruseas High School, as other Kiwanians look on.
President of the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point, Indira Mangarweise (right), presents a box of sanitary napkins to Judith Brown, guidance counsellor at Ruseas High School, as other Kiwanians look on.


Hundreds of female high-school students in the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland are to benefit from the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point’s 2023 signature project ‘Sit with confidence’, which was designed to cater to the comfort and well-being of young students during their regular menstrual period.

The multifaceted project will include lectures and presentations on topics relating to the menstrual cycle, and information on lessening the anxiety and discomfort for the teens.

The initiative will target students through its Key Clubs in Rusea’s and Green Island high schools in Hanover, and Little London and Grange Hill high schools in Westmoreland.

“For this year, our signature project is distributing sanitary napkins to the four schools in which we have a Key Club, under our Service Leadership Programme (SLP),” explained Indira Mangarweise, president of the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point. The club celebrates its eighth anniversary this year.

“We will be visiting all the schools involved once per quarter to do lectures at the different grade levels, which will be followed by the distribution of the sanitary napkins to the schools. Rusea’s is our third stop so far since the start of the project,”said Mangarweise. She spoke to The Gleaner following the club’s visit to Rusea’s on Monday.

Mangarweise said financing for the project was realised through the club’s fundraising efforts, the assistance of Kiwanians in the diaspora, and an unnamed shipping company.

Inez Creary-James, the distinguished past president of the club, who was the guest presenter at the Rusea’s stop, told The Gleaner that prior to starting the drive, a survey was done with guidance counsellors and nurses at schools in the parishes to determine the demand for sanitary napkins among the female students. She said that with the Kiwanis Club of Negril Point having made inroads in the high schools through their Key Clubs, the decision was taken to start in the schools in which those clubs are active.

“Our club looked at how we could intervene. We looked at the number of children who were on the PATH programme in the schools, and we found that approximately 30 to 40 per cent of the female students were on that programme, [and] it varied from school to school,” she added.

“Period poverty is a thing that is high, not only in Jamaica, but across the world, where women and girls are unable to afford sanitary napkins,” said Creary-James. “So, they (the females) will stay away from school and the workplace, and even use unhygienic things.”

“A study done by a researcher at the University of Technology revealed that up to 40 per cent of students in inner-city areas were not attending school during their monthly menstrual period, as they could not afford the necessary items,” continued Creary-James.

Judith Brown, the guidance counsellor at Rusea’s High School, told The Gleaner that the school deeply appreciated the items, noting that the need for them was great.

“I feel very good that the Kiwanis would have thought of us (at Rusea’s) ... . I think that the presentations, in words and items, are very relevant to our young people,” said Brown. “Actually, every day we have situations where persons have issues and they will come to the guidance office for assistance, and as such, this is a very worthy cause.”

She said the younger students at the school are usually more prone to having accidental needs for the items, due to their lack of experience and knowledge of their body functions and changes.