Monday, February 20, 2023

Helping Black Girls in Chicago Fight “Period Poverty”

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Chez Smith, is the founder of the Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. (Healthy Optimistic Outstanding Determined) Foundation, which addresses “period poverty” which is the lack of feminine hygiene products that affects millions of females worldwide. Recently, she opened a Reproductive Health Services Center in Chicago, Illinois to support “gyrls” on their journey to becoming empowered women capable of making informed choices.

The center will serve Black and brown girls in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood in the city’s South Side with support from Chicago Beyond, which invests in organizations, community leaders, and equitable research opportunities that are positioned to change the lives of young people in Chicago. The center will provide menstrual hygiene management, reproductive and sexual health education, and social services through the organization’s existing programs. It will also be used to deliver job training workshops, college prep events, teen parent support, and more to the community.

According to the University of Pennsylvania, every month, one in five girls on their periods will miss school due to a lack of feminine hygiene products. According to the World Bank, “period poverty” affects more than 500 million females around the world.

For adolescent girls living in poverty, lacking basic feminine hygiene supplies can have a significant impact on their education, health, and dignity.

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At Gyrls In The H.O.O.D Foundation, we are serious about showing up for the girls in our community,” said Chez Smith, the organization’s founder. “Our goal is to remove the stigma around girls accessing services. The center is easily accessed by public transportation and will offer late hours to accommodate the school and work schedules of adolescent girls.

Smith, recognized by Chicago Magazine as a 2022 “Chicagoan of the Year,” has been on a mission for the last five years to build a network of support to improve life outcomes for adolescent girls living in urban areas considered “hood.”

“If we are serious about improving reproductive health disparities and outcomes then we must start equipping girls with the education, resources, and tools needed to make informed choices,” Smith said. “Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. deserve reproductive justice and we are going to help them get it.”

Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. Foundation is a premier Chicagoland nonprofit organization that provides girls with the reproductive and sexual health education needed to make informed and responsible choices. Learn more about the foundation and how to get involved at

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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