Post By Gloria Malone
The Care Center is “an alternative education program for pregnant and parenting teens who have dropped out of high school. The Care Center seeks to “provide access to arts and culture [while] supporting struggling young families as they move toward self-sufficiency.”
Walking through the house was amazing, they had artwork from the teenage mothers all over the halls, positive messaging, and helpful resources from wall to wall for all their students.
The young women who were there for the workshop were very friendly and open but once Leydi and myself started opening up about our personal experiences as teenage mothers the room became a lot more comfortable for all of us.
The workshop included a brief history of the systemic oppression all women face and how women of color have been disproportionately affected by this, a mock office visit with an elected official, and a lesson on legislative affairs.
We shared stories of triumph and pain while learning and teaching one another how to channel all of our stories into advocacy.
The real shame that surrounds teenage parents is not our lives but the fact that societal stigmas diminish our lives while simultaneously refusing to hear our powerful stories.
Hearing the stories from my peers inspired me and helped remind me why we should all be proud to be who we are despite the flaws society says we have.
The young mothers in the room were ready to learn more about the social constructs in place that have the ability to keep us in a certain place unless we work to change that. They put their all into learning how to speak to their audience and how to identify their audience.
NLIRH is doing great work with teenage families in an effort to help them help themselves work for their communities and families.
The distinction is important.
While some organizations are more interested in “fixing a problem” with out ever listening to the person, NLIRH wants and understands they need to hear from you to know where to meet you.
When you know that a person, an organization, or any other group of individuals what’s to help you help yourself in a judgment free way that makes a world of a difference.
This is what NLIRH has done for me, my peers, and the fact that they asked Leydi and I to help them facilitate a workshop further proves to me that they are interested in working with teenage families and not just prescribe a one size fits all “fix.”
I hope that the young moms at the care center left feeling the same way and feeling empowered to create the change they want to see. I know I left with their stories in my head and my heart.