“Prom Dress? Or Diapers?”
by Ariela Martin | May 18, 2012 10:32 am
Posted to: Schools
Florence Brown never became a “statistic.” She returned to a city high school to tell teen moms they, too, can beat the odds.
As a teen Brown went to Polly T. McCabe, New Haven’s alternative public high school for pregnant students. She made it to college and “turned my situation around.”
Brown returned to New Haven Academy Wednesday afternoon to help a new generation of high-schoolers avoid becoming a statistic too—the 60 percent of teen moms who drop out of school, and sacrifice later success as adults.
Brown spoke at for a teen pregnancy awareness program as a part of Mercedes Dunkley’s “Women Empowerment” Future Project. New Haven Academy is one of several schools in the country taking part in the Future Project, an experiment in enlisting a city’s adults in helping high-schoolers develop community projects. (Click here and here for previous stories on the Future Project and Dunkley’s project.).
Wednesday’s program began with 35 students, parents, and Future Project coaches choosing different teen pregnancy and motherhood situations on a card. They broke up into small groups and discussed what to do.
After a group discussion of all of the situations, five teen moms spoke candidly about the struggles in their daily lives, the challenges of balancing education and motherhood, and the varying support from their family and “baby daddies”.
Jessica Boria, pregnant with her second child, is 17 and in 11th grade at Polly McCabe. “I’m going to finish school because I know I need to do the right things for my kids, so they can have a better future, and raise them better than what I’m doing,” she said.
“Don’t get pregnant in high school. It’s not cute, and it’s not fun—trust me, I know,” she said.
Florence Brown went to Quinnipiac College on a grant for teen moms after her high-school graduation. Now, 39 years old with five children and a grandchild, Brown works as a nurse. Her parents told her to get an abortion; she chose not to.
On Wednesday afternoon, she inspired the struggling teen mothers. “You can make it. I made it. My life was the same as yours when I was in high school: prom dress, or diapers? And it is what it is, but in the end, it makes you a better person. There is something better at the end of the road, so let this motivate you to do something positive. I don’t care what people say about you, you can make it.”
“The teen pregnancy rate in New Haven is nine times higher than the national rate of woman giving birth in the country. 60 percent of teen moms don’t graduate high school. 75 percent of these teens end up on welfare within five years of their first child’s birth,” said Dunkley.
The teen moms worked hard to beat those statistics by staying in school, Brown told the mothers. “Just because statistics are what they are, you don’t have to be a statistic. You can fight hard, and through education, you can get out of where you are. All things work together for good. Don’t give up, and use the negativity as a stepping-stone to get where you need to be.”
Following the discussion, attendees wrote, their thoughts on how to prevent teen pregnancy in New Haven.
Dunkley’s sister, DaShonda Heath, also spoke at the event. She had her first child at the age of 14, she said. “Those of you who don’t have kids, I’m telling you, don’t have them until you’re stable, because it’s really hard. I hope you make a better choice than what I did, because now at 29, I’m still struggling.”
Ariela Martin, a student at Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School, is an Independent contributing reporter.
Post a Comment
posted by: Sabir Abdussabur on May 19, 2012 7:17pm
And the The Future Project does it again, my hats’ off to you all.
Just wondering if these ladies are also talking to the young ladies who do NOT have babies. I mean to tell these young ladies of their struggles and just maybe one teenager will abstain or at the very least, use protection.
I give the girls in this story credit for trying to do the right thing, but kids having kids is a major problem. Miss E is spot on in requesting these girls speak with non-pregnant teens. Raising a child properly is the most important, exhausting and rewarding thing a human can do. Without an education, it’s even more difficult.