Mentoring Teen Parents Through the Healthy Teen Parents / Healthy Babies Program
The challenges of parenting can be stressful at any age, but for teen mothers and fathers, the transition into parenthood can bring some unique difficulties. Many teens become isolated from their friends, and the hope of finishing their education can be crushed when the needs of the child require prioritization. Mentoring teen parents can help them find a path through these difficulties and learn ways to thrive in their new circumstances.
The YWCA received a new Community Connect Grant from MOSAIC Life Care that will allow the YWCA to serve parenting teens and their babies through the new Healthy Teen Parents / Healthy Babies Program.
The program will serve up to 85 parents and their young children, providing mentoring from trained adults, as well as a chance to connect with other teen parents. The overall goals include improving health and well-being for teen parents and babies and to reduce the social isolation that often occurs when a teen transitions to parenthood The grant will allow the YWCA to offer support to teen parents in a variety of ways, including home visits, monthly meetings, mentoring, educational speakers, play groups and school groups.
The program will include elements to combat the social determinants that can affect access to healthcare, obesity prevention and mental health. Through a collaboration with a University of Missouri Extension Nutrition Specialist and a Missouri Western State University health and exercise science student intern, the participants will participate in wellness initiatives for both the teen parents and their children.
To participate in the program, teen parents complete an application for enrollment. Once they are accepted into the program, they’ll receive a monthly newsletter detailing the support groups and other opportunities available for them. The support group meets every second Tuesday of the month and features MU Extension representatives, who share resources on nutrition, healthy meal preparation and fitness for parents. The YWCA offers childcare for participants.
The last Thursday of the month offers a chance for mentors and teen parents to mingle at the Monthly Mentor Mixer. The YWCA is seeking mentors who can offer compassion and emotional support to teen parents. The mentor simply attends the Monthly Mentor Mixer, and they can also connect with their teen parent outside of the events if they wish.
Mentors must be at least 21 years old and pass a background check, but people with a variety of experiences are welcome to apply. Whether a person is an empty nester or never had children at all, a caring attitude toward a teen parent is the main requirement. The YWCA plans the events for the Mixer and sets the environment for a mentoring relationship to thrive.
To learn more about Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies, visit the YWCA of St. Joseph or make an appointment to talk with the program director. Through a mentoring program, we can help teens see past the exhaustion and stress and look forward to a bright, healthy future for them and their babies.