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SU Students in PCS Program Help to Increase 'Period Power'

SU Students in PCS Program Help to Increase 'Period Power'

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---When Salisbury University students Maggie Atherton, Lian Peach and Abbie Potter developed their idea for their Presidential Citizen Scholars (PCS) project, “Period Power,” designed to help local students contend with a lack of supplies and the stigma around menstruation, they were not sure it would connect with those in need.

One conversation early in their process made it clear that Period Power was needed and would resonate with many. While sharing information and creating cycle bracelets at their table at SU Downtown’s 3rd Friday, a woman and her daughter – with their own table at the event – came by to ask about the SU students and their work.

The mother told Atherton, Peach and Potter about her own struggle with early menstruation and her daughter, just 8 years old at the time, beginning her own journey.

Knowing girls are developing at an earlier and earlier age, SU’s PCS students were validated by the interaction and excited to help as many younger students as possible.

“That was a really impactful conversation that we had, and it stuck with us through the entirety of our project,” said Atherton, a junior conflict analysis and dispute resolution major from Orington, ME. “We’re recognizing that people are getting younger and younger when they are starting, and they need access to resources.”

The SU students coordinated with Kathy Frisch, Wicomico County health services supervisor, to provide supplies delivered in discreet packaging to students at Salisbury and Wicomico middle schools – identified by Frisch as two schools where the need was greatest.

Through their partnership with Wicomico County Schools and Aetna Better Health, more than 1,000 packages, delivered in cosmetic bags, are now available through the schools’ nurses offices, containing pads, deodorant wipes and other supplies. Students also can sign up with Aetna Better Health to be delivered a free three-month supply of materials every 90 days.

Thanks to a grant funded through SU’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) and ShoreCorps AmeriCorps program, to the cycle bracelets they created will help educate the young students about what is happening with their bodies. The bracelets have four different colored beads, representing four distinct parts of the menstrual cycle, and come with information about each stage.

“Learning earlier the stages of your cycle and when it’s happening can help younger students understand what’s going on and why,” said Peach, a junior political science major from York, PA.

While everyone’s story is different, all three scholars met with challenges as their bodies went through changes in middle school, including a lack of mentoring, educational resources and supplies.

It became an unspoken topic they all knew their friends were going through as well, but weren’t comfortable talking about. That left the internet — with sometimes questionable or inaccurate information — as their best option.

They hope their project helps connect younger students with health professionals in their schools and communities who can be reliable resources for information.

“It’s special to be able to help other people not rely on unreliable internet sources to get their information,” said Peach. “I hope that we can make the conversations less awkward, not just between mentors and students, but also between each other.”

And this may be just the beginning.

“The county and Aetna Better Health have already discussed expansion within the county,” said Potter, a senior public health major from Marriottsville, MD. “There have already been conversations about future product donations and expanding to the other three Wicomico County middle schools.”

The Presidential Citizen Scholars Program is directed by Ryan Weaver, professor of interdisciplinary studies, for PACE. For more information about the PCS program visit the program webpage

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