What started as a school project to raise awareness about the topic of “period poverty” is now a full-fledged campaign being initiated in all City of Novi buildings.
That’s the power of passion and what drove Novi High School seniors Varnika Chandra, Medha Maroju, and Vaishnavi Jagalur to approach Novi City Council about providing free menstrual products at all City-owned restrooms.
The students, who created the Fearless Flow Foundation, said there is a stigma around women having their periods, they themselves often walking to the bathroom trying to hide their products. The goal was to not only help people feel more comfortable, but also help those who might not have access to what they need.
“We live in Novi and most people assume everyone is well off,” said Medha. “There’s a good amount of people below the poverty line here and we wanted to support them.”
Said Varnika: “We expect toilet paper and soap in our restrooms, but we don’t expect to have menstrual products and we should.”
The group’s initial plans were just competition related, but once they learned more about the topic they wanted to keep advocating. “We didn’t see other people talking about it and we wanted to be the ones to step up and tell others it’s OK,” said Vaishnavi.
The group presented before Novi City Council in December and were invited back in February when Council agreed to provide the products in City-owned restrooms while also encouraging private businesses to do the same.
Mayor Bob Gatt said he was wowed by their initial presentation and touched by their passion.
“It gives me great heart to think our Novi schools are putting out students like (them),” he said.
While the seniors will be graduating in June and heading off to college, their work is not done. They plan to encourage the Novi Public Library to provide free menstrual products in its restrooms, and work with the school district to do the same. They would also like to have the district update its health curriculum to include more information on menstruation.
On top of those goals, the Foundation is planning a product drive in early April, partnering with surrounding school districts to collect products for those in need. Everything collected will be donated to location organizations who support women in need. The group has already donated 8,000 products thus far.
“We want to make as much of an impact here as we can,” said Varnika.
For more information on the Fearless Flow Foundation or to help, visit fearlessflowfoundation.org
or follow them on Instagram @fearlessflowfoundation.