By Nyoka Samuels-Gilchrist
Photos by Jewell Pitts
Community gatherings are the core of Women In Training, Inc.. Whether it is packing WITKITS, or WIT Leadership Development Academy gatherings, coming together is the beauty of Women in Training, Inc.
On January 14, 2023, a gathering of girls and young women converged at the StoryBooth inside the historic Kress Building for a discussion entitled, “Embracing All of Me: Things to Know as We Transition Into Our Moon Cycles.” Nyoka Samuels-Gilchrist MSN, RN, of the community health and wellness company, 7 Healing Waters, LLC facilitated the discussion with support from Breanna and Brooke Bennett, the teenage founders of Women in Training.
The participants included girls and women from Women of W.I.L.L., founded by Sheyann Webb-Christburg.
"Self-Care is essential to the overall functioning of life's situations," Webb-Christburg said. "It helps girls to minimize anger and frustration, it improves energy, and it helps to reduce depression and stress."
The workshop objectives highlighted educating young women about what happens to their bodies during the menstrual cycle, and how they could take this time as an opportunity to learn about their body, mind and spirit and how to care for themselves.
The hour-long talk began with an ice breaker, because the topic of the menstrual cycle is often a difficult topic to introduce to young women who are so personally connected to this process that happens regularly. A small pack of pantyliners was used as a “ball,” and was bounced around the room until all the young women introduced themselve providing their names and their ages. The room warmed up enough to share empowering affirmations that would claim the intentions for the gathering.
Breanna and Brooke surveyed the room to make sure the young women had paper and pencils that they would use to answer the first question in the discussion, “What do you call the time of the month that people with a uterus all over the world experience every month?”
Throughout the workshop, the facilitators posed questions to the group to encourage responses before providing the answers. Asking the questions gave the young women an opportunity to share what they already knew or demonstrate the need for clarity within an open dialogue.
The dialogue covered the spectrum of topics, including the following:
Biology the young women have cradled inside of their bodies
What happens during the entire menstrual cycle
Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS
How to care for your emotions and body during the menstrual cycle
Breanna and Brooke lead the discussion around tips for choosing the appropriate period supplies, how to dress for comfort during the period, hygiene during the period and choosing comfort items that help to soothe the discomfort people often feel during the period. The twins stressed the importance of trying different supplies and comfort items until each menstruator finds the items that work best for each of them.
What would a community gathering be without parting gifts? The facilitators presented each young woman with gift bags that included specially-crafted salves made with cocoa butter from Ghana, West Africa, as a self care item. The sweet aroma of the cocoa butter filled the room as the facilitators taught the young women how to use the salve on their skin. Another gift item that the facilitators highlighted during the presentation as a comfort item was dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is one of the ways to decrease the craving for sweets during PMS and during the period.
The workshop concluded with additional affirmations that the young women repeated to seal the deal that they would focus on learning how to nurture themselves first, before they nurture anyone else. WIT looks forward to hosting more workshops like this one to continue the work of ending period poverty and raising awareness about menstrual education.
Here are three of the six affirmations that Samuels-Gilchrist created:
I am uniquely made. There is no one in the world exactly like me!
I am learning how to care for my body and my spirit!
I am working towards understanding my feelings and my thoughts!
WIT volunteers who supported this self-care activity included Ife Dixon, who packed the gift bags and provided the chairs; Tina Lewis; WIT Young Leaders Gabrielle John and Azaria Rudolph; WIT Board President and Chairwoman LaToya Clark, MD; WIT Development Chairwoman Sandra Whatley-Washington; and WIT Communications Chairman Bradley Bennett.
Special thanks to Kress at Dexter for allowing us to use their space.