Many of us can remember the slightly awkward moment at school when the teacher announced one particular topic for the upcoming lesson: sexual health. The whole class would groan or giggle, or a mixture of the two, but there was rarely a child who felt comfortable watching dated educational videos about menstrual cycles and puberty.

But the betty for schools programme has a unique way of introducing these topics to children aged eight-12, in their trademark 'period bus'.

Facilitator Karen Whyte, who has led groups studying at schools across north London, said she was attracted to the project when she joined in May 2017 by the elements of social activism involved.

She said: "The project really works to challenge the taboo subject of periods and puberty, and making sure that both girls and boys are informed and not intimidated is really special.

"It feels like we are empowering them with the knowledge about their own bodies, and opening up a dialogue. I, myself, am an actress and it’s been a real lesson in reading your audience and being able to adapt to various situations."

Ms Whyte has had a range of conversations with young people on the bus, including one moment where she shocked a girl by revealing that yes, Beyonce has periods too.

"We put these celebrities on such pedestals that we forget they are human just like us," she said. "So now a girl has something in common with Beyoncé!

"Sometimes the pupils come on the bus feeling really nervous and wouldn't dream of shouting the word 'vagina' on a double decker bus at their school, but as the workshop progresses you can really see them becoming less intimidated by the language and terminology used."

She believes the neutral space, outside of a classroom, helps the children feel free to express themselves and not feel they are being monitored by teachers.

The facilitators run an hour-long session, after which the pupils will not see them again and this, according to Ms Whyte, makes them feel less afraid of asking questions.

The sessions are open for boys and girls, though they are usually educated separately by same-gender facilitators, and the aim of the bus is to remove the taboo from such subjects and correct the culture of shame surrounding it.Q: Do you ever do lessons with boys – are these as well received as the girls’ sessions?

Ms Whyte said in her observations of a boys sessions, they are often very mature and understanding when learning about girls' periods.

She said: "We have two male facilitators that run the boys sessions, and the boys are very impressive. They learn about respect and empathy.

"Having observed a boys session, I was impressed by their maturity and understanding about the changes that girls experience."

But what about the future of the betty bus project?

"I really hope that it continues," said Ms Whyte, "as it is doing such great work to create a new generation of clued up, non-judgemental and intelligent people who will not perpetuate the culture of shame surrounding periods and puberty."

For more information on the betty for schools project, or how to get a bus parked up at your school, visit