Students Found Baton Rouge Chapter of #HappyPeriod, Collect Feminine Hygiene Products for Women in Need
During their clinical rotations at Baton Rouge General (BRG), fourth-year AUC students Chelsea Azevedo and Natalie Jurisich have made it a priority not only to hone their clinical skills and build relationships with attendings, but also to give back to their local community. In February, Chelsea and Natalie held a donation drive to collect feminine hygiene products at BRG—the first official event of their newly founded chapter of #HappyPeriod, a social movement created in 2015 to promote period equity, and in response to the historical lack of feminine hygiene products available for women in shelters.
As part of the drive, Chelsea and Natalie created donation centers around the hospital for colleagues to drop off donations at their convenience. They promoted the drive through announcements at their weekly didactics/grand rounds, collected supplies at daily morning reports and outpatient clinics, and purchased additional supplies through monetary donations.
The result? They received thousands of donated tampons, pads, soaps, and wipes, to be assembled into menstrual kits. As local shelters are beginning to accept donations with the relaxation of initial pandemic restrictions, Chelsea and Natalie are creating the kits to be delivered to the shelters and distributed into the community.
The AUC community is no stranger to #HappyPeriod. Four years ago, alumna Nikole Czapp began a Miami chapter and organized donation and distribution drives with AUC students rotating at the Center for Haitian Studies. Since then, students and alumni have started chapters across the U.S., including in Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Danbury, CT.
Chelsea first became involved with #HappyPeriod in 2019, working with alumna Dr. Cait Gottwald after seeing the success of the Miami chapter.
“Baton Rouge has been my home now for a year and a half, so I was looking for a way to give back to the local community,” said Chelsea. “After seeing how many people are homeless and/or living in poverty in Baton Rouge, #HappyPeriod made perfect sense as their mission is to support anyone who would otherwise go without. This includes those who are homeless, low-income and/or living in poverty, LGBTQ+, non-binary, teenagers, veterans, and/or those who are disabled.”
Both Chelsea and Natalie have a longstanding passion for women’s health and addressing healthcare disparities.
“I was driven to get involved in creating a chapter of #HappyPeriod at Baton Rouge General because I truly believe women’s health does not get the appropriate responsiveness as it should,” said Natalie. “By bringing the chapter to Baton Rouge General, I had the opportunity to bring to light and remind students, residents, and attending physicians the importance of women’s health and period equity.”
As Chelsea prepares to graduate from AUC this month, Natalie is leading another donation drive at BRG. The items collected will be delivered to IRIS, a local domestic violence shelter in Baton Rouge. They hope to continue holding drives at least quarterly and encourage other AUC students to get involved.
“On the website, you can search to see if a local chapter of Happy Period already exists in your area. If there is no chapter, there is a form to fill out online to receive more information about founding your own chapter. There is a small donation fee associated with founding a chapter,” said Chelsea. “If a chapter already exists, you should absolutely reach out directly to the chapter to see how you can get involved. If a chapter already exists at an AUC clinical site, your CSGA site representatives should be able to provide more information about local events.”
For more information about #HappyPeriod, visit https://hashtaghappyperiod.org.