A 14-year-old Croydon schoolgirl has won an engineering award for her idea and design of a period pain relief device for athletes.
Sumaiya Bangura, a student at Old Palace School in Croydon, won the London Leader’s Engineering award after coming up with her entry as part of her physics lessons.
Her submission involved a description of the device, The Athlete’s Menstrual Cramp Sensor and Reliever, and an image of its design.
Sumaiya said: “I was shocked when I won because I did think it was quite a female-orientated idea.
“It’s still a taboo subject. But I’m so open: if something hurts you have to say it hurts, acknowledge it and find a solution for it.
“Maybe the judges realised that this is a thing that happens to a lot of people and it is not a nice thing at all.”
Planned to fit neatly under an athlete’s top, her idea was based loosely on a waist trainer which could sense cramps before they came on and apply pressure and heat to ease them.
Sumaiya realised the need for her invention when she started playing mixed hockey competitively.
She said: “It was very irritating. The team I was playing with was mostly boys and they were really good at hockey.
“I’d only been playing for a few months and when I tried to catch up with them it was already difficult.
“So when I tried to catch up while on my period I just felt so deflated, I already didn’t have the motivation because of that and then on top of that my stomach is killing me.”
Sumaiya thought that there should be some type of relief for girls who can’t drink chamomile tea every five seconds, go on the contraceptive pill, or carry their hot water bottle around wherever they go.
Then she had the idea when she saw her aunty wearing a waist trainer and she thought: ‘What if there was something like that which applied pressure and heat that fitted under clothes?’
The Leaders Award is a national competition which encourages primary and secondary school students to get involved in engineering by answering the question: ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’
Previously, some winning designs have been turned into prototypes, and Sumaiya hopes she’ll see her idea become a reality.
Sumaiya is also the chair of the London Youth Assembly, an initiative for young people which mirrors the London Assembly and she hopes to be a barrister in the future.