Humber IGNITE ensures accessibility through free menstrual products

Apr 18, 2024 | Culture, Life

A box of tampons can cost anywhere from $5 to $20 at a grocery store, but through a student-run initiative at Humber College North campus, they are free.

The initiative began in early 2017 after a former Humber IGNITE staff member, Alissa Lim began speaking up about women’s issues on campus.

The campaigning initially started at the Lakeshore campus and became fully operational by 2018.

Current IGNITE student advocate, Melany Palacios-Naranjo from the University of Guelph Humber, has been working with the school since she enrolled as a student. Now that she is completing her last year in the role, Palacios-Naranjo reflected on the importance of advocacy.

“So when [the initiative] started, I wasn’t working here, but I got to be a part of a lot of the talk as it blew up,” Palacios-Naranjo said. “It was nice to see that so many people had a positive reaction.”

Palacios-Naranjo said the initiative originally began as a campaign entitled The Pads and Tampons Project and has distributed over 60,000 products to students since conception.

She said IGNITE purchases the products directly from a vendor and then attaches their logo before refilling machines in washrooms.

“Our goal is always to continue to spread awareness and bring it forward to other institutions,” Palacios-Naranjo said. “Other universities, colleges, kind of let them know that this is something that goes beyond just a women’s issue.”

She said the initiative gets a specific positive response when other educational institutions come to events on Humber campuses and can see the campaign in action.

“Just that positive feedback, that reinforcement that what we’re doing is in the right direction, that’s really nice to hear,” Palacios-Naranjo said.

She said she gave special attention to international students and ones that come from low income families who sometimes cannot afford or access sanitary products outside of campus.

Palacios-Naranjo and the IGNITE team want to make a positive difference for students and make easy access to various personal needs.

This initiative allows Humber students to have accessibility to products they may have trouble affording and also helps those who may have forgotten sanitary items and are working or studying on campus.

“IGNITE’s focus is always to put students first,” Palacios-Naranjo said. “A lot of students, they come in and their focus is academics, but at the end of the day they are spending a lot of time on campus.”

Free menstrual products can be found in all female and gender-neutral washrooms across all Humber campuses.

“We want to ensure that your time on campus is a good experience that you carry on with you for the rest of your life,” she said.