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Free period product dispensers to be installed at Edmonton Catholic Schools

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The Edmonton Catholic School Division (ECSD) will fully equip all washrooms with free period products by the fall.

On Tuesday, ECSD announced its commitment to ending period poverty by ensuring all washrooms for Grades 4 and up have dispensers full of no-cost hygiene products and disposal receptacles in the stalls.

In an effort to strengthen equity in schools, the division said it's making sure students no longer face barriers due to a lack of access to products.

“No student should have to skip class or feel embarrassed because they cannot access period products,” Sandra Palazzo, board chair, said.

Until the dispensers are installed, Palazzo said free products are currently available for students in the main office of ECSD schools.

Last year, a school-wide research project was held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School, assessing the need for period product access.

The study found 94 per cent of female respondents and the majority of males thought students should have products and disposal options in washrooms.

It also found there was a shared concern from students around the cost of purchasing products.

“Period poverty is a real issue in schools,” Kennedy Devlin, an AP student at St. Francis Xavier, explained. “Yet often goes undiscussed because of stigma around it.”

“Having to hide pads or tampons in their sleeves, asking a teacher for help, or worrying about missing class because of a lack of products at their disposal is one stress factor that could be alleviated by making products readily available.”

In June 2021, the school installed dispensers and receptacles as part of a pilot program.

“It’s amazing that Edmonton Catholic heard this need through our research and are clearly addressing it,” Sophia Rouget, another Grade 12 student on the research project, added.

According to ECSD, it’ll cost about $300,000 to implement the initiative and it will be funded by the Operations and Maintenance budget of the division.

The dispensers and receptacles are expected to be installed by September of this year. 

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