Meeting the Needs for Adolescents: Introducing CycleSmart
The knowledge, attitudes and skills acquired during the ages of 10 to 14 set the stage for future relationships and communication with sexual partners about rights and responsibilities and for developing self-care practices and behaviors to prevent unwanted sexual relationships, unintended pregnancy, and disease. As a result, IRH developed CycleSmart™, a package of tools tailored to girls ages 10-14. It was developed and tested in collaboration with youth-serving organizations in Rwanda and Guatemala and is based on research conducted with adolescents, their parents, and their communities. The Kit includes CycleBeads, (the color-coded beads typically used with the Standard Days Method of family planning that can also be a visual and tactile way of teaching girls about menstruation and fertility); a calendar; a weekly diary; reusable/washable sanitary napkins; and a country-specific brochure called CycleSmart, which includes topics like the menstrual cycle, puberty-related changes, risk of pregnancy, gender norms, and safety tips. Preliminary evaluation results show that CycleSmart is a useful tool for teaching boys and girls about puberty and fertility.