No shame in my game

In the back row, Tyheissa Williams, Desnoes and Geddes Foundation member (left); Edith Kahn (centre), nurse at Confidence Sanitary Napkins Limited; and Shelly-Ann Weeks (right), founder of HERFlow Foundation, join students from St Alban’s Primary, St Andrew Primary, Dupont Primary, Lister Mair/Gilby School for the Deaf and Holy Trinity High School at the Writing HERStory youth empowerment conference. The students were among more than 100 girls who benefited from the initiative.

Kareem LaTouche, Youthlink Coordinator

More than 100 girls benefit from menstrual education conference

Growing up can be exciting, especially for a young girl blossoming into a teenager. She embraces the changes that come with new opportunities and looks forward to new experiences. It’s no different for 14-year-old Mckayla Fitzgerald, a student of the Lister Mair/Gilby School for the Deaf, who attended the recent Writing HERStory Conference at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston.

“I love to learn, and I enjoy learning new things about myself every day. I work hard and I always try to do my best, so I am excited about what my future holds. Having hearing challenges will not stop me from living my dream,” said Fitzgerald, through a sign language interpreter.

The teenager and about 20 schoolmates participated in the conference which was put on by the Shelly-Ann Weeks-led HERFlow Foundation in collaboration with Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation. The conference brought together more than 100 girls from five schools for an empowerment experience which also focused on menstrual education and personal development.

“This event was a good experience because I got to learn about the stories of other girls my age, which confirmed that I am not alone on this journey. I also found it inspiring when the D&G Foundation members shared their experiences. They encouraged me to work hard so I can be successful and a good leader. I will definitely share the information I received here with my friends and family,” noted Fitzgerald.

Ten-year-old Ameika Aris from Dupont Primary and Infant School shared similar sentiments. Although she is uncertain of her professional path, she believes she will be successful in her endeavours, having been motivated by the conference presenters.

She said, “I feel more confident about doing the things that I want to do. If the presenters can be successful and do something they love, then I know I can, too. The thing that stood out to me is to work smart, because that will allow me to go after those experiences that will benefit me most.”

Students from St Alban’s Primary, St Andrew Primary and Holy Trinity High School also attended the conference, which included an educational tour of the Institute of Jamaica and lunch. To help boost their productivity, each student received a thumb drive and stationery from the D&G Foundation as well as a sanitary napkin kit, courtesy of Confidence sanitary napkins.

“One of the cornerstones of the D&G Foundation is youth development, and a primary way that can be achieved is through empowerment. It is necessary for our young girls to be educated so they can be inspired to do their best. By equipping them with this information, they can make better decisions and become a positive influence among their peers,” said Tyheissa Williams, D&G Foundation member.

The initiative allowed volunteers from the D&G Foundation to share their experiences of becoming a woman. By connecting with successful women, the students felt motivated to chase their dreams.

“This was a great way for us to celebrate Women’s Month. The ladies from the D&G Foundation and I shared our stories of growing up and how we got to our current place of success. It was also appropriate to empower girls about their reproductive health and rights in an interactive way. In doing so, we became role models to the girls, who engaged us in conversations about our career, how we overcome challenges, and about menstruation,” said Shelly-Ann Weeks, founder of HERFlow Foundation.

Williams said, “We are happy to have played a role in the development of these girls as they strive to become leaders of the next generation.”

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