Young Change Makers: Why and How Breanna and Brooke Bennett of ‘Women in Training’ Are Helping To…

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Young Change Makers: Why and How Breanna and Brooke Bennett of ‘Women in Training’ Are Helping To Change Our World

Be joyful! When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was a great deal of panic in the air. Instead of crying about this “new normal,” we sat down and laughed out loud! Then, we brainstormed about how we can continue serving girls, young women, and transgender and nonbinary youth who need monthly WITKITS of menstrual and hygiene supplies. Since the pandemic started, we went from delivering 25 WITKITS each month to serving more than 632 menstruators!!!

As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”,I had the pleasure of interviewing 14-year-old twins Breanna and Brooke Bennett, founders of Women in Training, Inc., or WIT, a youth empowerment organization based in Montgomery, Alabama. WIT’s signature program is the WITKITS Campaign to help alleviate period poverty among the 25% of American young people who skip school or miss work because they cannot afford menstrual products. Women in Training, Inc. has also developed the WIT Leadership Development Circle to groom a select group of high school young women to have a strong understanding of global and national issues, experiential learning opportunities in STEM/STEAM and entrepreneurship, and a commitment to public service. Their mission is to End Poverty. PERIOD! The twins are proud to be winners of the Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2021!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

We were born in the Miami-area to an American dad from Washington, D.C. and a Bahamian mom from Nassau. We grew up eating fish head and tail, guava duff and dancing to Junkanoo music at large family gatherings! When we were three, our family moved to the United Arab Emirates, where we lived in the fast-paced Dubai, the capital city Abu Dhabi, and the rural community of Ras Al Khaimah. We gained a great understanding of Arabic culture and the Islamic faith from our Emirati neighbors, friends and classmates.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

We believe the experience that had the most significant impact on our upbringing is the experience of living abroad for five years. In the UAE, our classmates gave us elaborate gifts like parrots, jewelry and designer clothing on their birthdays! When we returned to the States, we didn’t think twice about continuing the eastern practice of giving gifts to celebrate our birthday each year. In fact, that is how Women in Training, Inc. got started. We both wanted to do something big for our 12th birthday, so we started brainstorming about seven months in advance about what we could do. First, we thought about building houses for homeless people, then we considered cooking dinner for hungry children. In the end, we decided on distributing menstrual and hygiene products to girls, women, transgender and nonbinary youth in need to end period poverty.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Making A Difference to us means using our privilege to improve conditions in our local and global communities. Many people may think we do not have “privilege,” because we are young African American girls. We are that; however, we are also spiritual, gifted and beautiful. We are privileged to also have international connections, voices that capture the interests of leaders and commoners alike, and parents who advocate for our organization’s mission. So, yes, we have privilege and use that to improve the lives of those we meet.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

We originally started Women in Training, Inc. to address the issue of period poverty; here is our first video. We also wanted to create a network of young people who would work together on public service projects. It took us only a few months to realize that it would take massive support from the government, corporations and private citizens to truly create menstrual equity. To that end, we met with Alabama Representative Rolanda Hollis to seek her support in introducing a bill that would require school districts to provide menstrual products to students in need. Rep. Hollis immediately jumped on the idea! She first introduced the menstrual hygiene bill in the Alabama House of Representatives in 2020 and, again, in 2021. In 2021, Brooke testified in front of the House Ways and Means Education Committee in support of House Bill 88. The committee unanimously approved moving the bill forward to the full House. Then, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the bill with only three days left in the session. Rep. Hollis has reintroduced the bill for the third time in the 2022 session as HB 50. We both testified on behalf of HB 50 at the Education Committee level; we are awaiting votes in the full House and Senate.

In three years of operations, Women in Training, Inc. has expanded to include the following programs to help girls break the generational cycle of poverty:

We recently ended with the WIT Rites of Passage Circle. This program was designed to train girls in middle school who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, or BIPOC, to become culturally enriched, globally aware , savvy leaders.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

When we were small, our mother worked at two different all-girls schools; first in Dubai and then in Miami. Our mom always kept a stash of sanitary pads, tampons, washcloths, soap, deodorant, lotion and other hygiene products for students. When we moved to Montgomery, we began to observe that there are girls who “spot” on their clothing because they couldn’t afford sanitary pads. That really made us sad.

BROOKE: “That’s not right,” I softly cried. “Every girl needs menstrual items to stay clean and healthy during their period.”​

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. We don’t always get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

BREANNA: When Brooke suggested ending period poverty as our birthday project, I was initially quite hesitant because I wanted to do something HUGE! Something global. I didn’t realize that period poverty is a global crisis. One day, I was watching YouTube, and watched a video about a woman who had just been released from prison. She said the entire imprisonment experience was awful: she lost her freedom. She was raped and beaten up. The food was horrible. But, worst of all, she talked about how she lost her dignity each month when she had to cut up socks, sheets and pillowcases to make sanitary pads. That’s when I broke down and cried with the realization that period poverty is a real issue that affects the very dignity of

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Our mother called a meeting with about ten women to help us formulate our ideas. Only three showed up. The hostess provided snacks and said we could stay as long as we wanted to; however, she left to go on her daily run. Another woman came for about 15 minutes, but then left to pick up her child from daycare. Only one woman stayed. Khadidah Stone remained with us for more than four hours as we laughed and cried and shared our ideas. Khadidah became our very first board member and is still holding our hands throughout this journey. Here are the accomplishments we made in our first year, and second year.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The most fascinating experience we have had to date is with Procter and Gamble. We contacted P&G when we first started Women in Training, Inc. We inquired about the manufacturer making donations of sanitary pads, tampons and other hygiene items for WITKITS. They politely responded that our organization did not meet their company’s criteria for making donations. About a year later, we were thrilled to receive an email from P&G stating that they wanted to support our work to end period poverty. They provide regular donations of Always sanitary pads to us, named us Period Heroes on International Day of the Girl in 2020 and arranged for Katie Couric Media to interview us for a profile on the “Leading with Love” series.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

BROOKE: I walked first. And, talked first.

BREANNA: But, my period started first. We are known as the queens of menstrual equity. Right? Our mother’s SUV is always stocked with WITKITS filled with sanitary pads, tampons, soap, deodorant, lotion. The works. But, our family was on vacation when I had my first menses. I whispered the great news to my mom around 9 o’clock one night. Mom went into a frenzy because Dad cleaned the car before the trip — and we had no pads. We were in a small town, and drove around for at least an hour that night looking for a pack of Always. The Walmart and grocery store were closed. We finally found an opened gas station, and we were able to buy a tiny pack of pads.

BROOKE: Lesson learned: Don’t EVER let Dad clean the car!!! No, seriously, the lesson is to follow our daily advice: always keep a pad or tampon in your purse or pocket!

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Absolutely! Our surprise cheerleaders came from the Barron Prize for Young Heroes. We applied for the award because we knew winning the international prize would widely increase awareness of our vision to End Poverty. PERIOD! What we never imagined; however, is the level of support the Barron Prize for Young Heroes staff and consultants would provide for us in terms of connecting us with broad national media coverage. The coverage has increased donations to Women in Training, Inc., which enables us to work even harder to end period poverty while, simultaneously, developing a select group of high school young women to become culturally aware global leaders.

Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

There is a great deal of shame and stigma surrounding the topic of menstruation and period poverty. Society has trained girls and women to never speak about this most natural of functions that is, literally, necessary for human life to continue. In almost three years, sadly, none of the 632 girls we service each month have been willing to come forward to share how the WITKITS have improved their quality of life. We want to share an anecdote: We carefully chose the canvas bags to serve as the WITKITS to hold a month’s supply of menstrual and hygiene products for girls, women, transgender and nonbinary youth in need. During our first giveaway

for girls in a public housing project, one girl accidentally dropped her WITKIT — and a pack of Always pads fell out!!! Oh, my gosh, you could feel the collective embarrassment in the room! We laugh about it now, but it sure wasn’t funny at the time. We now use canvas bags with a sturdy zipper to avoid this kind of mishap!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Yes! Here are three ways the community can support our vision to End Poverty. PERIOD!

  • Follow us on our social media, especially our website
  • Advocate to end period poverty in your local community
  • Donate to Women in Training, Inc. here.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).

Oh, girl, there are so many things we wish someone told us before we started Women in Training, Inc. Here are the top five:

  1. Be joyful! When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was a great deal of panic in the air. Instead of crying about this “new normal,” we sat down and laughed out loud! Then, we brainstormed about how we can continue serving girls, young women, and transgender and nonbinary youth who need monthly WITKITS of menstrual and hygiene supplies. Since the pandemic started, we went from delivering 25 WITKITS each month to serving more than 632 menstruators!!!
  2. Think big! Girls and menstruators all over the world need our help! It’s easy to get comfortable and sit on our laurels, but we cannot rest until every girl, woman, transgender person and nonbinary youth has the menstrual hygiene items to be clean and health every single month. For this to happen, we need to work with our allies to End Poverty. PERIOD!
  3. Continually develop and retain a village of loyal donors! Managing a nonprofit organization is similar to managing a for-profit corporation, because the ultimate goal in both cases is to acquire funds. In our case, the money we raise go immediately into providing services to girls, young women, transgender and nonbinary people in need. The more funds we raise, the more people we can help in our quest to End Poverty. PERIOD!
  4. Value volunteers! We depend on a community of volunteers to run every level of the organization, from the board of directors who make policy; to those who take photos, create videos and social posts, and manage the website; to the professionals who develop curriculum and implement the WIT Girls STEM Initiative and the WIT Leadership Development Circle; to the mentors who provide education and career support to the WIT Young Leaders; to the college students who pack and deliver monthly WITKITS of menstrual and hygiene products to local agencies serving young people. Volunteers multiply our impact a thousand fold!
  5. Take time to have fun! We force ourselves to take time each day to rejuvenate our energy. We either play tennis, perform on our school’s dance team, sing, create TikToks or simply chat or hang out with our friends.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Go for it! If you have an idea to make a difference in the world, gather a group of supporters and mentors, and take the first step. You’ll see: the next step will be easier!

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

We adore the Obama family, especially Malia and Sasha! They have a cool dad with such a beautiful smile — and he knows how to lead a nation and care for people around the world. Their mom is super stylish and smart as all get up! Malia and Sasha remained cool, calm and collected during eight years in the White House. They are smart and stylish like their parents. We would love for the Obama daughters to be spokeswomen for Women in Training, Inc.!

How can our readers follow you online?

Here are our website and social media links:






This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you!

Young Change Makers: Why and How Breanna and Brooke Bennett of ‘Women in Training’ Are Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.