Most 11-year-old boys are goofing off with their friends, staying up way too late yelling into gaming headsets or harassing their younger siblings, but not Jayden Hooker of North Carolina. Jayden has been spending his spare time finding a way to raise money to help end period poverty in his school district after an eye-opening experience with one of his classmates. The sixth grader explained that he realized there was a lack of access to free products when one of his friends started her period at school and had to go home.
You may be wondering why a sixth grade boy is so concerned with periods but to Jayden, this is just a natural part of life that shouldn’t be taboo. When Upworthy talked to Jayden and his mom, Deanna Hooker, she explained the importance of making sure her son knew about periods. Hooker said, “The nature of what I do day in and day out working with Aunt Flow, our true mission is making period products free for those that need it, so the conversation came from how I am and what I do for a living.”
Someone’s mom doesn’t have to work for a company fighting period poverty for boys to know about periods and period products. Because it’s a biological fact, just like needing to use the bathroom after drinking a bottle of water, it could be beneficial if all boys learned about a bodily function that affects half of their classmates. Period poverty among students has jumped to nearly a quarter of all students being unable to afford period products; 84% of students have missed class or know someone who has missed class due to lack of access to period products. This is a problem that could use attention, and maybe seeing a boy promoting these products will help stop the stigma around these conversations.
It’s not just Jayden and his mom. Many parents in the school district and PTO members have helped donate items to Jayden’s ultimate goal of free period product dispensers in the bathrooms at his school. Hooker told Upworthy, “He attends a Title 1 middle school and this is something that has never been provided. But so many parents and PTO members have donated and now we have enough product for the year and can provide 2-3 dispensers in the school.”
The project has been difficult to get off the ground as they’re still in the process of trying to convince the school board to allow the dispensers to be installed, but that isn’t deterring Jayden. The determined 11-year-old is aware that the nurse has some products students could use but many don’t due to embarrassment or being unaware they’re there. For Jayden, it’s more than just going to the nurse. He explained, “The nurse should be helping people who are sick and she shouldn’t have to help people who are just needing pads and tampons.”
The kid has a point. When people think of the school nurse, they tend to think of not feeling well, which is what the nurse is there for, but getting your period isn’t an illness. If these dispensers are available, a student wouldn’t have to alert a teacher to get permission to go to the nurse to then tell the nurse they need a pad or tampon. That’s a lot of personal information to divulge for children that are navigating middle school.
Jayden is passionate about getting these dispensers installed for not only the girls at school but for his younger sister. He said, “I want the awkwardness of the topic to go away and for people to have the proper education so when people do need it, it’s there for them.” He continued, “Toilet paper is free so pads and tampons should be too.”