Thousands of students from across the country tuned in Friday to watch a short film featuring Campbell High School students who helped advocate for legislation to end period poverty in Hawai‘i public schools.
Teach for America worked with ‘Ilima Intermediate School teacher Sarah “Mili” Milianta-Laffin and her students on the animated film featuring former ‘Ilima students Riezel-Nicole Escoto and Telia Hao-Aunese who are now ninth-graders at Campbell High School.
“I liked how the filmmakers centered the video around us and our ideas. The kids who got to see our work today were looking at the things we did, and I hope the way it was portrayed inspired them to make a change in their communities," Telia said about the experience.
"Blood, Sweat and Sparkles: The Young Activists Guide to Ending Period Poverty," was one of the few pieces selected for the San Francisco International Film Festival's
Schools at the Festival program. It was screened as part of the online program at 7 a.m. Hawai‘i time and Milianta-Laffin, Escoto and Hao-Aunese participated in a live virtual panel after the film screening.
"Can middle school students change the world?" the film's synopsis asks. "After three years of organizing and advocacy, a middle school activism club is celebrating. This school year, students all across Hawai‘i now have access to free menstrual products in their schools, in part because of ‘Ilima Intermediate School’s Activist Club and their mission to end period poverty. In this animated and spunky guide … these young activists and their teacher share their journey and offer a lesson to other would-be change-makers."
"I was excited for students around the country to see ourfilm because I think it can act as a good example or source of hope to those who want to make a change but have no clue how to go about it," Riezel-Nicole said.
"It took my students a year to make this film happen, and three years to pass the period poverty bill," Milianta-Laffin said. "Our ‘Ewa Beach kids are incredible and help showcase the talents and tenacity of our public school kids."