OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Running Strong for American Indian Youth Dreamstarter grant chose Mvskoke Nation Youth Council Advisor Jasmyne Jack as one of the ten recipients for this year’s theme of Social Action.
Olympic gold medalist and Oglala Lakota citizen Billy Mills co-founded the Running Strong for American Indian Youth. The Dreamstarter grant was developed as a part of the foundation to help American Indian youth in their dream for their community.
Each selected “Dreamstarter” receives a grant of $10,000 to help fund their project, which is chosen based on the year’s theme of the grant.
Jack’s Street Outreach Program provides hygiene kits and period packs to homeless and struggling Native American youth ages 12-24 that got the foundation’s attention.
According to Jack, she had come up with the idea for period packs to implement the MNYS “Snag Bags” program. The snag bags provide sexual health resources that can be picked up anonymously.
“People can’t control that they have periods,” Jack said. “I just told Nancy I would really like it if we could offer this.”
After pitching the idea to her manager Nancy Mason, the two worked together on budgeting to make it happen before the grant.
Shortly after the period packs were available, the youth services started noticing a need for general hygiene products on the Reservation, particularly in the Okmulgee area.
Jack claims since the program is new, the response hasn’t been too heavy yet, but the grant will help fund outreach.
She said she knows firsthand how it is to live in poverty as a young girl with limited access to these products, not to mention the access to money to afford them.
It hit her when Jack got a call from her nieces needing period products because their mom could not afford them then.
“It just kind of brought me back to my own experiences growing up in poverty,” Jack said. “I couldn’t always afford it, so I did have to miss school sometimes.”
Jack said her niece had to miss a whole week of school due to the lack of access to affordable products.
“It kind of was the ongoing thing with a bunch of other young people having to miss work or school because of that,” Jack said.
Depending on store location, a box of 18 tampons (Tampax Pearl) at the local Walmart and Walgreens is anywhere from five to ten dollars.
With 18 single tampons, being advised to change every four to six hours could mean using four to six tampons in just 24 hours. That would consume one-third of your product purchase in just one day.
The period packs include an estimated week’s worth of tampons, pads, liners, cleansing wipes, menstrual education on products, hemoglobin (blood) education, Toxic Shock Syndrome, and when to seek medical attention.
The hygiene packs include three to four weeks’ worth of toiletries like travel shampoo, wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, and other small items.
According to Jack, the period packs and hygiene packs are anonymous mail or pick up and can be applied online at https://www.mvskokeyouth.com/.
For more information about the Mvskoke Nation Youth Services or guidance on services available, call 918-549-2557.