TAYLOR COUNTY—After receiving support from community organizations, the Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH) Coalition met with the Taylor County Board of Education (BOE) to discuss the needs of female students.
PATCH President Alicia Lyons compiled data and met with community entities to garner support, before meeting with the BOE to ask that they institute a policy that would provide much needed menstruation products for females with their schools.
“It is unfair to deny students that menstruate full access to the educational experience, including extracurricular activities at the school,” Lyons voiced. “To promote a fair and equally accessible education for all Taylor County students, PATCH proposes that the Taylor County Board of Education include the cost of these supplies in their future budgets.”
“Having a policy in place would provide a long-term, consistent solution to this issue,” she added.
As part of her proposal, and with a mission to provide and promote a fair and equally accessible education for all students, Lyons, on behalf of PATCH, proposed the installation of 17 dispensers in the bathrooms of the two schools that would see the most benefit.
The cost of these machines would total $3,366, and Lyons approached both the Taylor County Commission and Grafton City Council to ask that they split the one-time cost, each paying only $1,683.
After hearing from Lyons, the Taylor County Commission pledged their support for the installation of the machines, contingent on approval of the Board of Education and the schools involved.
The Grafton City Council asked that once Lyons had met with the Taylor County Board of Education and they had made their official decision, to come to a future meeting and a decision would be made.
“Since that time, they have retracted their support for the project,” Lyons revealed.
Armed with information, Lyons presented her plea before the BOE, and after a lengthy discussion, a compromise was formed.
“After discussing the concerns and issues with the principals and school nurses, the Taylor County Board of Education agreed to place one dispenser at the middle school and one at the high school,” she explained. “The machines will be put in the more frequently visited bathrooms so there will be greater chance to monitor them.”
She believes that this trial run will allow them to see how the students treat the dispensers, as well as to help gauge the amount of supplies needed over the school year.
“It’s a start and it will give us a chance to gather some local data that should be helpful for future projects,” Lyons commented.
She shared that the proposal received a great deal of support, something she was both happy and excited to see.
“We hope that the County Commission, Unicare, Tygart Valley United Way and PATCH will be available to help us when it is appropriate to expand this service in our schools, as they have already shown great support of our initiative,” Lyons said.
Additional supporters, that provided letters to the BOE, included Dr. Mary Gainer, Dr. Peter Wentzel, Mayor Sheila Westfall and Jodi McQuillan of the WV Healthy Start/HAPI Project.
“We really appreciate everyone that pledged financial help and support for this,” Lyons imparted.