Code Red was launched in 2020 within Denny High School when it was apparent that periods were impacting attendance; we established the group to support period dignity and challenge the stigma around periods.
In the beginning, we formed Code Red with a mix of junior and senior pupils – Jenna and Katie (both now S5 were original members) - and Physics teacher Miss Dickson; now we have new members: Ellie, Abi, Emma, Olivia and Bethany, and we make sure everyone has access to period products by restocking toilets for both pupils and staff throughout the year. We use tannoy announcements to ensure pupils and staff are aware of Code Red and their goals and we’ve found that regular announcements has reduced vandalism and continues to challenge the stigma as we highlight period poverty and the purpose of the products.
During lockdown we ensured both pupils and families had access to products by developing a delivery service through ‘MS Forms’ before the local authority service was available and it was very exciting to win CVS Falkirk’s ‘Innovative Volunteer of the Year’ Award 2021.
Katie: “We have had so many opportunities through Code Red. My highlight was when I was 1 of 20 girls selected to develop an eco-friendly period product with Dame in Oxford. My willingness to try alternative products has driven Code Red to educate our school community about sustainable options through Code Red Go Eco.”
We were delighted to meet Monica Lennon, MSP to celebrate one year of The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) at Stage 3 in November 2021 as she was our inspiration behind Code Red.
Abi (S4): “I joined Code Red this year because I could see the positive impact it was having on pupils and staff… I’ve enjoyed creating TikToks to support period dignity as well as using the vinyl printer to design Code Red jumpers. Any key event in the Code Red calendar is followed by cupcakes and party canons to highlight the work we do and ensure achievements are celebrated.”
Communicating through Instagram and Twitter (@_DHSCodeRed) has helped us reach more pupils and share updates with the wider community as well as set an example for secondary schools in Scotland – we have recently been invited by Education Scotland to deliver a professional learning event for teachers across Scotland which will be an exciting opportunity to share our journey and support other schools in establishing a period dignity group.
Miss Dickson: “As a teacher, it has been a privilege to work towards normalising periods with a group of young people who share the same determination to reduce inequalities and are committed to social justice. There has been a real shift in attitudes around period dignity whereby our school community recognise that period products are a necessity within all toilets. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work in partnership with Education Scotland and take Code Red to the next level by supporting period dignity within other secondary schools in Scotland.”
The success of Code Red is evidenced by the frequency we replenish stock, highlighting that we have addressed a need in school and we will continue to support pupils and families to sign up to the free period product service, welcoming a wider range of sustainable products to ensure those options are accessible for all people experiencing periods.
We recorded a Q&A on periods and contraception with Dr Victoria Kinkaid, who has an interest in female health, to ensure both pupils and staff are able to make more informed choices about their body. You can listen to the recordings here:
Also, you can check out our interview with Celia Pool, co-founder of DAME - a brand behind the world’s first reusable tampon applicator: https://sway.office.com/KvmivaEufGyXNvbH?ref=Link
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