Over the fall semester, students in the course Social Work 427, which is instructed by Amy Phillips, have been conducting a service learning project with Days for Girls. Days for Girls is a nonprofit international organization that sends menstrual care kits and education to girls in different countries to end the taboo.
Phillips has been assigning this project for many years, but changed it this year to have the whole class focus on just one organization. The class is divided into three teams, so everyone has a specific aspect: the event group, the boothing group and the donations group.
“The project is for us to be able to make a change for them (Days For Girls).”
– Hope Eggers
Throughout the project students have been applying tactics they have learned throughout their undergraduate coursework and applied it to a real-life situation and organization. “It gives students the opportunity to do work outside the classroom that they can then connect with the theoretical material that we’re learning in the course,” Phillips explained. “It makes it more real or understandable.”
The students have also gained a confidence in their work through the collaboration with Days for Girls. “We’ve learned a lot about facilitating and taking on the leadership role, and so I think that’s helped out a lot with public speaking,” Madison Berg, a senior in social work and human development and family science (HDFS), said.
Many people do not realize how difficult it is for girls in other countries to learn about menstruation and also find adequate supplies. Berg explained how she was oblivious to the lack of products in other countries and how most people do not understand the extent of how difficult it is for girls in other countries.
“In underdeveloped countries, they don’t have the adequate access to menstrual supplies and they don’t have the education on it, so Days for Girls doesn’t just give the supplies, they also ensure that proper education is given on the subject,” Berg said.
Through this project, seniors in the course have been inspired by how much of a difference they are making to the lives of young girls. Before the project, many of the students did not know what Days for Girls was, so it opened their eyes to a new organization and how they can make a change.
“Being able to see that change, not only at a small level, knowing that one bar of soap is going to change this girl’s life, but knowing we’re helping this organization that does this for thousands of girls across the globe is impressive,” Hope Eggers, a senior in the course, said.
“It’s good for the students. It’s good for the community organizations. It’s good for the community. It’s a win-win all around,”
– Amy Phillips, Social Work 427 professor
Berg explained how she could see herself continue working with Days for Girls in the future and how she has enjoyed spreading awareness about the organization. “I was so oblivious. I want other people to know about it and to feel passionate about it like my class is,” Berg said.
The organization has enjoyed having additions to their teams and help from a class on the NDSU campus. Phillips explained how nonprofit organizations are normally understaffed because they run off of donations and grants, so there is often a lack of money. “It’s nice for them when they have energetic, serious, committed groups of students coming to help them,” Phillips said.
Dena Wyum, a senior lecturer in HDFS and a team leader for the Fargo Days for Girls team, said she has been volunteering for the organization for four years, so she has helped the class with understanding the ins and outs of the nonprofit. Since the service project began, Wyum has been sewing the kits together every night, more than she usually does, because the project has given her more energy to do more for the organization. “It’s been really invigorating to have students involved in it,” Wyum said.
The students wanted to make a large-scale change for the organization and were able to help through donations, events and informing other students about Days for Girls and the lack of menstrual knowledge through other countries. They have been able to work with professors around campus to spread more awareness. “It’s kind of like a community effort through the professors and through campus that they’ve been helping us set up our project for success,” Eggers said.
Days for Girls collects donations for kits that consist of 100 percent cotton underwear, either hipster or briefs style (girl sizes 10-16), gallon-sized freezer Ziploc brand bags, colorful washcloths that are terry cloth not microfiber (preferably darker colors) and little hotel soap ranging from .05 oz to 1.5 oz. The students were able to collect items to make kits with a total of 572 Ziploc bags, 115 washcloths, 333 pairs of underwear and 1,489 bars of soap. Through donations and events, the students were able to make $3,000.16 to go toward Days for Girls.
For more information on the project or the organization, visit Daysforgirls.org or contact the Fargo team at firstname.lastname@example.org.