May 30, 2012
A Rockingham mothers’ group is helping young mums achieve their educational goals.
The group, run by Waikiki Community and Family Centre, is primarily for teen mums wanting to resume their schooling.
Centre coordinator Vanessa Clarke says there was a need for such a program in the area.
“Part of our contract to the Department for Communities is to provide programs and services that are catered to the needs of the community,” Ms Clarke said.
“A lot of the [mums here] haven’t gotten to the end of high school, but we facilitate that.”
Members of the mothers’ group are externally enrolled in TAFE, university or schools of isolated and distance education through which they can complete grades 11 and 12.
Ms Clarke says the program is open for mothers up to the age of 24.
“The younger they are, the more important it is that they’re engaged in something like this,” she said.
“More and more we’re seeing mums who are under 20.”
Teen mum Kyra Elliott started attending the mothers’ group at the beginning of last year, having heard about it from her health nurse.
“When I first started coming, we weren’t studying,” Ms Elliott said.
“But at the start of this year they decided to make it a study group where we all do our own invidual [work].”
Ms Elliott had already left school by the time she fell pregnant at 16.
But with the support of the group, she is on her way to achieving Certificate III in Children’s Services.
“I’ll eventually do my Diploma in Children’s Services and then go to university,” she said.
“And, sooner or later, [I’ll] become a social worker.”
Fellow group member Jasmine Lane also has big dreams.
Ms Lane became pregnant at the age of 15. She was in grade 10 at the time.
After completing her high school year, she left to continue her studies at TAFE.
She said that before she fell pregnant she had planned on becoming a navy chef.
“Now I’m doing my business [certificate] to open my own restaurant,” she said.
“I love cooking.
“I’ve [grown up around] my Italian grandparents, and I just love cooking for everyone.”
Group member Crystal, 24, (who asked that her surname be withheld) was 16 when her first child was conceived.
Crystal said there was nothing like the mothers’ group at that time.
She had left school in grade nine, unsure of her plans for the future.
However she is now studying Certificate II in General Education for Adults with the help of the mothers’ group.
Crystal said the best thing about attending the group was that she could study without worrying about her children, who were looked after in the centre’s crèche.