‘Committed to inclusivity’: Several Island groups to provide free period products

'Committed to inclusivity': Several Island groups to provide free period products

With a goal to end period poverty, five groups on the West Shore have signed on to United Way’s Period Promise campaign to provide free menstrual products.

Soon, free menstrual products will be available inside the bathrooms of the Q Arena in Colwood and at West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities. Before the final Victoria Grizzlies game of the season, the team, along with the Victoria Shamrocks and West Shore Wolves, became the first three sports teams to join the campaign in the province.

The City of Colwood and West Shore Parks and Recreation is also committing to providing free products.

“By signing onto this promise, we’re showing that everyone who plays here is committed to inclusivity in sports, on and off the rink,” said Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean.

The announcement was made ahead of the Grizzlies game, and in the coming months, dispensers will be installed in bathrooms at the hockey arena and at the West Shore pool. The goal of the campaign is to reduce barriers often faced by people who menstruate.

“We know that at least half of people who menstruate will struggle with access to products at some point in their lives. Often due to costs and this could mean missing a practice or a game, or some important community event or even school,” said Dean.

Grizzlies’ President Byron Loucks said when he was first approached to sign the campaign, he wanted to set an example for players.

“We want these young hockey players to leave here understanding that life’s more than just hockey. We’re trying to create awareness within most of the games we’re doing,” said Loucks.

“Whether it’s about this initiative or a pride initiative or mental health, we’re really working hard to try and bring the community in. To bring awareness to community and events like this.”

According to MLA Dean, providing free menstrual products also inspires more women to take up sports.

“People who menstruate will feel a lot safer and will be a lot more engaged in coming out and enjoying games like the Grizzlies game tonight, taking part in sports themselves and just doing things like going to school and going to work,” she said.

Products are being provided in conjunction with Joni, a group that focuses on providing sustainable and accessible period care.

The teams, along with the city and West Shore Parks and Recreation, will be added to the more than 40 organizations in B.C. that have signed on to United Way’s campaign.

Towards the end of May, United Way of Southern Vancouver Island will host a fill-the-bus campaign to stock up on menstrual hygiene products. According to the non-profit, over 18,000 products and $11,000 was donated during their 2022 campaign.

There’s no set date when the dispersers will be installed, however, people can already pick up free products at City Hall and the front desk of the West Shore Parks and Rec office.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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