Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – Being a teen mom – especially with no support – is a tough job.
Young Lives is working to give teen mothers hope by offering “life on life” mentoring to help raise healthier babies and mom’s graduation chances, too.
“Three years ago, we realized that there were close to 50 teen moms who were at Northside High School walking through the halls and we knew that we needed to do something,” explains Chris Kern, Associate Regional Director for Northeast Indiana Young Life, the group that started Young Lives.
The national average of teen mothers who graduate high school is 40%.
Young Lives raises the odds to 85%.
Young Lives mentors gather as a group once a week with the teen moms and their children. Connecting with other moms helps them share struggles and victories.
“Just because you find out that you’re pregnant doesn’t mean that you’re going to be connected to everybody else who’s in that same scenario,” explains Kern. “If anything it’s the opposite. You hide; you isolate.”
Young Lives serves mothers from the three northern high schools in Fort Wayne Community Schools – Northrop, Snider, and North – at Heartland Church on Vance Avenue.
The meetings at City Life on South Calhoun are just starting for those at South and Wayne High Schools.
Young Lives mentors offer more than hope. They often accompany teen moms through the unfamiliar maze of social services available.
“We have one of our mentors, Danielle, who is also a nurse with Healthier Moms and Babies,” says Kern.
“She’s a direct referral for these women to be able to get plugged into this incredible organization that’s helping them think through nutrition and helping them think through prenatal care.”
Kern points out that each teen mom has different needs.
“If you’re coming in in survival mode and you’re scared, you need somebody who can say ‘it’s going to be okay.’ A lot of our teen moms are in great situations. They’re not in survival mode. They’re incredible young women who are more resilient and have more hard life skills than other adolescents. Not every teen mom is in a hard situation. I don’t want us to believe that scenario. But wherever they’re at, we want them to be able to live the best life that they could possibly live right now.”
To learn more about getting help or becoming a mentor, email Elisha Catts at firstname.lastname@example.org.