By Maria Spitale-Leisk, North Shore News
Bronwyn Wellenbrink chose gerbera daisies, geraniums and daisies to spread awareness about feminine hygiene.
The Grade 7 Seymour Heights student sold the flowers as a fundraiser at her school recently, after being inspired by the Academy Award-winning film, Period, End of Sentence.
The documentary short film follows a group of local women in Hapur, India, as they learn how to operate a machine that makes low-cost, biodegradable sanitary pads, which they sell to other women at affordable prices.
“Basically, the film is about girls, in developing countries, and what happens to them when they get their period,” says 12-year-old Wellenbrink. “In certain countries when girls get their periods it means that their education is finished and they must stay home for the time they are menstruating, and in certain places, to certain people they are considered unclean.”
When Wellenbrink learned of The Pad Project, a California non-profit that provides girls in India with the skills and machinery needed to make their own feminine hygiene products, she jumped at the chance to lend a hand.
“The reason why I want to take part in this cause is that I don’t think it’s fair that girls or young women should have to end their education because of this natural thing that will happen to every woman,” explain Wellenbrink.
“When I get my period, my mom just goes to the store, grabs some products, and then I just go about my day as if there is nothing different. In other countries, they must try and find old cloth, and dispose of it at night so no one will see."
Wellenbrink turned to her fellow Grade 7 classmates to help develop the flower project.
Dykhof Nurseries and Florist and Delta Pacific Landscaping donated potted plants that the student put in paper bags and wrapped with ribbon.
Wellenbrink’s teacher Jillian Gordon assisted the students, as did her Seymour Heights colleagues who donated the supplies.
Held a few days before Mother’s Day, the timing of the fundraiser worked out beautifully, with the Seymour Heights students picking out blossoms for their mothers.
At the end of two days, Wellenbrink and her team had raised $1,305 – set to be donated to The Pad Project.
Through this altruistic process, the Seymour Heights students say they learned about the stigma faced by their female student counterparts in India.
“I wanted to help because I’m lucky to have so much and some girls don’t have anything and this way they can stay in school,” said Grade 7 student Elly Knight.
The fundraiser was a win-win in Khotso Ogden’s opinion.
“I wanted to help because it’s good to help others that aren’t as lucky and it was fun helping the little kids choose plants for their moms,” says Ogden.