Girls’ Wellness Initiative Addresses Needs Near and Far

Nonprofit begun by Hockaday student tackles period poverty in Texas, India

While nibbling on bite-sized pastries, shoppers roamed a room ornately decorated with pastel colors and gold accents — a pink Versailles, if you will. 

Fifteen percent of proceeds from clothing bought during the recent five-hour charity shopping event at Love Shack Fancy in Highland Park Village went toward improving feminine health.  

The Girls’ Wellness Initiative, started by Hockaday senior Danya Risam-Chandi, aims to reduce period poverty, locally and abroad, and increase feminine health education through donating menstrual hygiene kits and hosting seminars at high schools.  

Risam-Chandi started the charity after realizing that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many girls lost access to free period products, especially when schools began shuttering.

Risam-Chandi set up a small fundraiser, asking family and friends to contribute. She was able to raise enough money to donate 800 pads to girls in Mumbai, Inida.  

She expanded the effort by recruiting girls from Hockaday and schools across Texas to establish as many branches of the charity as they could. 

Today, The Girls’ Wellness Initiative has six chapters throughout Texas and more than 50 national leadership members. They rotate between raising money for women in Texas and India.

In May, The Girls’ Wellness Initiative was able to donate more than 12,500 menstrual kits in Denton.  

One way the Initiative raises money is through functions, such as the one that director of event management Addison Willis hosted in early June at Love Shack Fancy. 

“I knew Love Shack Fancy has hosted similar events before,” Willis said. “So I called one of the sales associates and said that I had an amazing charity that I wanted to raise money for with the store.”  

The nonprofit also aims to help girls understand their bodies and how to best care for them. They host “Health & Hygiene Seminars” for underserved Texan girls.  

“Texas doesn’t have the best health curriculum,” Risam-Chandi said. “There’s a lot of restrictions on what the schools can teach, leading to girls not always receiving the best or most accurate information. For example, 58% of schools only teach abstinence, and 25% don’t cover sexual education at all.”  

The Health & Hygiene Seminars are meant to build off schools’ curriculums and equip young women with the tools they need to understand and care for their bodies. They cover topics such as the reproductive system, menstrual hygiene, menstrual product options, dating, violence prevention, and sometimes mental health.  

The Girls’ Wellness Initiative also hosts anonymous question and answer forums with OBGYNs and primary care physicians to allow girls to ask more private questions without feeling embarrassed, Risam-Chandi said. “It’s super important that women have the resources, both physical and educational, to protect their health.” 

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