Twin sisters Brooke and Breanna Bennett always wanted to make a positive impact in their community, but weren’t exactly sure where to start. When their mom, a school teacher, told them that there were students in her school who couldn’t afford menstrual hygiene products, they got to work immediately, offering tangible support to youth in need.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to sweep across the nation, compassionate individuals are stepping up in big ways to support those in need. Brooke and Breanna Bennett are two of those people. The 13-year-old twins live in Montgomery, Alabama, and this summer, when they’re not swimming, running, or dancing, they’re making a difference with their nonprofit organization, Women in Training (WIT).
The story behind WIT’s founding begins in 2019 with Brooke and Breanna’s mother, Adeyela Bennett, who was a teacher at a local Montgomery school. Back then, Adeyela told her daughters that some students at her school often asked her for pads because their families couldn’t afford them. This news broke Brooke’s heart, and she couldn’t help but wonder if students at other schools faced the same challenges. Through some research, she learned that one in five American girls and nonbinary youth skip school or miss work because they cannot afford proper menstrual hygiene products to stay healthy and clean during their periods. It was then that she asked her sister Breanna to help her to do something—and thus, Women in Training was born.
WIT is a youth empowerment organization that advocates for menstrual equity and education. It works to engage girls as well as trans and non binary youth, ages 10 to 18, in community service and social justice. WIT’s main focus is to provide essential menstrual hygiene products to all those who need them in the form of “WITKITS,” which are canvas bags filled with various hygiene products including pads, tampons, soap, toothbrushes, and more. In addition, each bag contains a handmade bracelet that offers messages of encouragement.
Brooke explains, “My sister and I always wanted to do something for the community. So when we heard about the students at our mom’s school, we realized that a lot of other girls needed pads and hygiene items, too.” Breanna continues, “You can’t tell your period, like, ‘Don’t come, I can’t afford the supplies,’ right? And so we want to donate these menstrual hygiene products to the girls in need. So they won’t have to spend money that they don’t really have.”
When COVID-19 hit Montgomery hard in March, menstrual hygiene products became scarce, and a lot of people in the community began reaching out to WIT, asking them for supplies. Adeyela quickly realized a number of factors that were contributing to the shortage. Churches were closed and therefore weren’t distributing menstrual hygiene products to foster care facilities, homeless shelters, and halfway houses. Schools were also closed, so students could no longer count on teachers or nurses to provide them with the supplies that they needed. Moreover, people had lost their jobs and could no longer afford already-limited supplies.
This gave Brooke and Breanna the idea to start a GoFundMe Charity campaign to help them provide WITKITS to as many people as possible. To date, the sisters have raised nearly $2,000, allowing them to distribute hundreds of WITKITS to students in need. They were also able to start including personal protective equipment to prevent COVID-19, such as handmade masks, plastic gloves, and WIT-branded bottles of hand sanitizer.
Reflecting on her experience, Brooke says, “For us, it just feels really nice that we have the privilege to make someone’s life a little bit better… And since it’s [during] COVID-19, I feel like that’s kind of when they need it most. So it makes me super happy to see their faces when we give them WITKITs because they’re super happy, especially when they look in the bags and see that they have everything they need.”
Moving forward, Brooke and Breanna want to expand WIT’s mission across state lines. But in the meantime, the sisters hope that their work will inspire others to make positive changes in their own communities.
Breanna explains, “If you see anything wrong in your community, speak up about it and try to educate people. And if you have the resources, I think you should definitely just go for whatever you’re doing to better the community.“
Learn more about how you can support Women in Training.
Listen to Brooke, Breanna and Adeyela’s interview on the True Stories of Good People podcast.