State approves funds for Make Me Free to implement Voice4Change-winning initiative


The Make Me Free Initiative, created by Camille Kolek ’23, Miriam Hurley ’23 and Adelia Purcell ’23, will supply Staples High School bathrooms with complimentary period products. Currently, free period products are only available in the nurses’ office. Graphic by Mia Bomback ’25.

The state of Connecticut has, after a year-long wait, approved funds for the installation of menstrual products in Staples High School’s girls’ and gender-neutral bathrooms as part of the Make Me Free campaign, the winners of last year’s state-led Voice4Change initiative. The contest allowed groups of students to propose ideas for the benefit of Staples. The winning group, as determined by the Staples student body, would receive $20,000 for the implementation of their initiative. 

Make Me Free was declared the winner of Voice4Change in April of 2022, in an email sent by Principal Stafford Thomas to Staples students and faculty. Since then, its leaders – Camille Kolek ’23, Miriam Hurley ’23 and Adelia Purcell ’23 – have communicated with the state of Connecticut to spend the allotted $20,000 on providing free pads and tampons at Staples, as per their proposal

Kolek, Hurley and Purcell were told they would receive the money over a year ago. After months of deliberation, the state, which is in control of the Voice4Change funds, has approved the expenditure of the grant. 

The money could not be accessed from the state for an extended period of time. But we now have access to it and a path has been cleared to move forward with this project.

— Math teacher Lenny Klein


An email sent to Staples faculty from math teacher Lenny Klein summarizing the WEA meeting from April 26 explained the new developments. 

“The money could not be accessed from the state for an extended period of time,” Klein wrote “but we now have access to it and a path has been cleared to move forward with this project.”

Though the money was set aside in early November, a personal matter caused a delay in the withdrawal, Principal Stafford Thomas explained, 

“The state official, whose job it is to approve the funds, has been on sick leave for the last few months,” he said. 

With the approval of the funds, Kolek, Hurley and Purcell can finally begin to orchestrate the implementation of machines and the installation of period products. 

“We would ideally like to at least order the supplies before the [school] year ends,” Kolek said, “and hopefully have our initiative [in] place before the start of the 2023-24 school year.”

Kolek hopes that guaranteeing free and easy access to period products to Staples students will relieve worries common among ‌students of remembering to bring supplies to school, missing class time to get menstrual products from the nurses offices, having to ask strangers for pads and tampons and general unpreparedness. 

“With these stressors eliminated,” Kolek said, “Staples students will be able to focus more on class and other activities rather than their periods, and hopefully destigmatize discussions of menstruation in the school community.”