Nursing students organize campaign to donate menstrual products for vulnerable and homeless Calgarians | New

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A group of sophomore nursing students at UCalgary are currently hosting a menstrual and hygiene product donation drive with community health partner The Moss Bag Project to provide products to homeless and vulnerable Calgarians.

The Moss Bag Project is an inclusive non-profit Indigenous organization that engages in activities such as providing post-secondary scholarships and pre/post-natal parenting sessions for Indigenous families. Two years ago, Alycia Two Bears, Director of Traditional Birth and Wellbeing and board member of The Moss Bag Project, co-created the Moon Time Bag initiative with a friend to ensure that homeless Calgarians have access to menstruation products.

“The bags were greeted with such gratitude that it became very clear to me that this had to be more than a one-time event,” she says. “Through social media, friends creating fundraisers, donations of supplies and monetary funds, media coverage, and dedicated volunteers/friends, the project was sustained for two years, growing from a monthly to weekly/as needed support.”

Two Bears says volunteers typically make a minimum of 12 bags a week, but sometimes as many as 40 Moon Time bags are created to have inventory for the Bear Clan’s Friday night patrols. She says that whenever there are extra supplies, they also occasionally support Good Neighbor YYC.

“We’ve just started supporting Red Road Radicals street patrols and some Calgary School Board schools,” says Two Bears.

I hope this will avoid the expense of stealing from the stores, to meet a basic and involuntary bodily need. That people feel valued by community members and allies they don’t know.

“I added sage stain because it is often considered ‘feminine’ medicine in a variety of teachings, which means anyone can use it while bleeding. Access to traditional medicines is something that homeless parents do not have easy access to, and it reminds us that the Earth still has them.

Sage stains that are part of the Moon Time Bags.

Courtesy of Alycia Deux Ours

Nursing student Shayla Sugden says care packages are important for several reasons. “People get their periods whether or not they can afford the hygiene products they need. Working with Alycia and The Moss Bag Project has been a really exciting experience because it has given us the chance to do something “practical” and to really feel the kind of impact we are helping to have on the community.

“A major component of community health nursing, which we learned a lot about this term, is social justice advocacy,” adds Sugden. “I think the issue of menstrual poverty is an issue that isn’t talked about much for many reasons. Some people are uncomfortable talking about menstruation, and others might not even think about it or care.

Moon Time Bags also provide emotional support to homeless and vulnerable people during their period or moon time, to ensure they are not alone and are supported.

UCalgary Nursing’s partnership with Two Bears was initially facilitated by Assistant Professor Merilee Brockway, who connected with Two Bears around her work with urban Indigenous mothers. Brockway was exploring opportunities to collaborate on potential infant feeding projects, then introduced Two Bears to nurse educator Jenny Langille.

Langille teaches Community Health Course N289 and her clinical group is working on a network map of all infant feeding services in Calgary by conducting an environmental scan of these resources for families. Working to collect donations for the Moon Time Bags was identified as a reciprocal project to build engagement with Two Bears and her community as she spent time talking with students about infant feeding resources for children. urban aboriginal mothers.

“We thought it would be a great experience to collect donations and help prepare Moon Time bags for those in need,” says Langille.

These are some of the most basic aspects of health that are not exclusive to those who have the financial means or who identify as female. Menstruation affects anyone with a uterus and everyone deserves access to hygiene products. Imagine you are homeless/homeless and cannot afford these products and you are on your period.

As an instructor, I have seen my students develop a non-judgmental and inclusive sense of being and vocabulary,” says Langille. “They learned to communicate and question community members, aligning with their values ​​and beliefs, their goals, and being part of something bigger.”

Of supporting UCalgary nursing students, Two Bears says, “IIt was easy to work with the student nurses. They made posters full of enthusiasm for the project. I requested that this project be supported as an act of reciprocity, as they host me as a guest speaker on Aboriginal breast feeding/milk feeding, and they complied with the request without hesitation.

Zoe Lamouche, a nursing student, says all of this experience has honed her communication skills. “This experience will help me to be more outgoing, to help others and to talk to others, as well as to defend those who are more sensitive to unnecessary hatred and prejudice, therefore to defend and support those who need it.

Lamouche says that while they’re mostly looking for more tampons and pads, foot warmers and hand warmers are also helpful giveaways given the cold weather. “We try to do as many packages as possible, so everything helps. We pack products in Ziploc bags so they are ready for distribution. »

To date, students have mostly received donations of pads, tampons and panty liners, but are also seeking donations for the following items:

  • Underwear in sizes XS-XXXL
  • Regular and long length night pads
  • Regular and super tampons
  • Chocolate and tea
  • Lip balm
  • Hand and foot warmers for the colder months
  • Deodorant for the warmer months
  • Large and sandwich ziplock bags

Donation boxes are in place in the Vocational Faculty Building, Wellness Center, UCalgary Bookstore and TFDL until November 15. When the collection closes, the students plan to collect the bins and posters and help assemble the Moon Time Bags.

“Moon Time Bags help improve hygiene for people who are homeless and menstruating. But more importantly, it helps maintain dignity,” says Brockway. “By providing these products, people can meet their basic needs and not have to steal or reuse hygiene products. This helps to improve both their physical health and their mental well-being.

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