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Haddon Heigh School Students Implement Aunt Flow

Haddon Heights High School Students Promote Menstrual Equity

Original article written by Melanie Burney

On a normal day in the nurse’s office at Haddon Heights High School, at least several dozen students stop by with the same emergency: They need period products.

Nurse Margaret Iuvara always has a supply available and encourages students to take a few extra products so they are prepared next time.

Since the spring, Iuvara can now send students to three different restrooms and the girls locker room, where they can find Aunt Flow dispensers stocked with free pads and tampons.

Macie Madden, Nora Mango, Nurse Margaret Iuvara, and Gabrielle Clement, at Haddon Heights High School, where period products are offered to students for free.
Macie Madden, Nora Mango, Nurse Margaret Iuvara, and Gabrielle Clement.

Although the South Jersey school voluntarily provides period products at no cost, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law in August that requires all public schools to offer free period products to students from sixth to 12th grade. It becomes effective in the 2024-2025 school year.

Advocates who pushed for the law said it necessary to end the stigma often associated with menstruation and, as part of a national movement, address period poverty for students from low-income households who may be unable to afford these essentials.

It’s a relief to have the products available. It’s such a good thing.

Haddon Heights Student Macie Madden
Student Macie Madden demonstrates a period products dispenser at Haddon Heights High School.
Student Macie Madden demonstrates a period products dispenser at Haddon Heights High School.

The initiative was the brainchild of former Haddon Heights student Anya Raetsch, who was inspired after listening to an NPR podcast about period poverty during her sophomore year. When Raetsch got her period for the first time in 8th grade, she didn’t know she could go to the nurse’s office for help. She eventually got some products from a friend but wanted to make it easier for other girls.

Raetsch decided to make the campaign her Girl Scout Gold Award community service project and convinced school officials to adopt it. It took months to get the necessary approvals. She held seminars about period shaming and surveyed all students, including non-menstruators, with the belief that the issue required support from the entire school.

I just felt strongly about it. I got really inspired.

Anya Raetsch

Raetsch later pitched neighboring school districts to join the campaign, and several towns, including Collingswood and Haddon Heights Township, also began providing free period products.

Her efforts drew the attention of state lawmakers, and Raetsch was asked to testify about the bill last spring. A few days before she left for college, she was invited to the Statehouse when Murphy signed the bill into law, alongside Aunt Flow Founder and CEO Claire Coder.

Governor Phil Murphy Free Period Products in Schools

It all just blew up and is getting the attention it deserves. [The legislation] has forced people to talk about a topic that has been so taboo.

Anya Raetsch

Bittner said the initiative has helped promote menstrual equity in the district, where about 10% of students are economically disadvantaged.

Why is this something we are hushed about and embarrassed? This is not something we need to be ashamed of.

Haddon Heights School Superintendent Carla Bittner

Read the full article here!

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claire coder,founder + ceo

claire coder,
founder + ceo

Hi! I’m Claire. I founded Aunt Flow after getting my period in public without the supplies needed.

At 18 years old, I dedicated my life to developing a solution to ensure businesses and schools could sustainably provide quality period products, for free, in bathrooms. Our products are made with organic cotton and we are constantly working to reduce our environmental impact! Since 2021, we've donated over 6 MILLION period products to menstruators in need. I call this people helping people. PERIOD.®