Lights, Camera, Period!
Learning Through Play
Think Community LaunchPad, but in schools, and way more fun! LaunchPad in schools was a super innovative, super engaging program that brought educational play-based activities into schools throughout Sierra Leone. The content? Periods, of course!
Providing both a practical and creative learning environment, students were taught all things menstruation and hygiene, helping to increase girls’ health and safety when it comes to their periods, whilst tackling period taboos! During lessons, students had the opportunity to create and perform plays based on their own life experiences, allowing for meaningful reflection for personal and behavioural change.
In Sierra Leone, menstruation and the topic of periods, is taboo.
This has led to the dangerous spread of misinformation; as well as placing girls at increased risk of early marriage, or being reprimanded by parents who believe menstruation is a sign of sexual activity.
These misunderstandings about periods often result in unhealthy and unsupportive home and school environments for girls and women.
Managing periods and menstrual health becomes difficult and prevents girls from both attending and succeeding in school.
Sanitary products are difficult to access and relatively expensive, forcing girls and women to use basic (and often unhygienic) items, like scraps of fabric. These make-do methods can be ineffective and messy, with girls choosing to stay home from school rather than risk accidents in the classroom. With little or no access to clean water, fabric scraps are washed in open water sources full of bacteria, and dried out of sight and indoors (where it’s hot and humid) because of cultural taboos around period blood. This means girls and women are wearing damp cloth – a breeding ground for disease, painful rashes, sores and infection.
Doesn’t sound so great, does it?
LaunchPad in schools, Sierra Leone.
So, why plays?
Educational play-based activities are proven to build positive engagement amongst participants (especially kids in school), and found to be particularly successful in promoting positive attitudes towards menstrual health and hygiene management.
In order to succeed in school, girls require consistent support and access to education on their own health and wellbeing. By incorporating boys into the discussion, huge steps are made to eradicate stigmas at a young age; nipping it in the bud you could say!
How it worked
One Girl partnered with Amnesty International to train 22 teachers in theatre skills, where they could then head back to their schools and incorporate LaunchPad into their classes. Students would put on plays to engage communities, encourage the ownership of new narratives and to start chipping away at social and cultural behavioural and attitude changes.
What we achieved!
210 students from 15 schools performed productions in their schools that aimed to reduce period stigma, raise awareness and teach communities about menstrual hygiene!
Engaging, fun AND educational!