Destiny's Story: Supporting Young Parents and Their Children
— Three in ten American girls get pregnant at least once before age 20. More than 50% of these teen moms never graduate from high school. And less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30.
Pregnant with twins, 14 year old Destiny came to the Safe Journey Program through Communities in Schools as a self-referral. Because cognitive and physical development of infants and children are influenced by the health, nutrition, and behaviors of mothers during and after pregnancy, preparedness and intention are critical.
The oldest of six in her family, she did not have a strong family support system. Even though she had helped with her younger siblings, she was apprehensive and worried about her own parenting skills. She was unsure of her abilities to make it through the challenges ahead. She understood intuitively that a child’s earliest years have a profound and lasting impact.
Destiny's personal visits and guidance from her Parents as Teachers parent educator gave her a wealth of knowledge on child development, development-centered parenting. The program helped her track and account for the things she was doing with her children. Through support and observations during visits with her Parent Educator, her knowledge expanded.
Destiny grew as she journeyed through motherhood. With each age-level milestone, her children also grew successfully.
Unintended pregnancy often takes a young parent off track from their educational and employment aspirations and plans. Strengthening families by supporting young parents is a crucial two-generation strategy increasing the odds for a strong start in life for next generation.
Today, Destiny is a high school graduate, lives in transitional housing, has an excellent support system, and will be starting college in the fall. She has blossomed into someone confident in her parenting. She tells her children they are going to face setbacks, look past all the bad things and strive to overcome.
"Having a child at a young age is scary. But it won't ruin your dreams. As long as you put forth the effort, anything is possible." - Destiny
In 2018, the Safe Journey Program had 26 graduates. The Safe Journey Program through Communities in Schools helps teen parents rise above life challenges and persist. Funded through Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, the staff assist parents with completing their high school education and delaying additional pregnancies. They offer counseling, educational resources and teach effective parenting skills so the young children develop optimally during their critical first few years of life.Safe Journey is a certified Parents as Teachers Affiliate and became a Blue Ribbon Affiliate in 2015.