By OnDrea B.
I was sixteen years old when I found out that I was pregnant. At the time I was in 10th grade at Ballou Senior High and my life was out of control. I had frequently ran away from home, partied, engaged in casual sex, used drugs, got into fights, and eventually ended up in jail. My life was full of abuse and neglect.
But I didn’t want my child to have the same kind of experience while growing up. I wanted to become a better person for him and myself. I knew that I had to change my life because I was going to be a mother. But I was at a loss and didn’t know anything about having a baby or raising a child. I took the step to stop doing drugs and partying and began looking for programs that could help me be the type of mother I wanted to be – informed, loving, caring and nurturing.
I Found HBP Online
What I needed most was support and parenting education. I googled “parenting classes” and learned about Healthy Babies Project and its Teen Parent Empowerment Program. HBP offered both.
My mother disagreed with my having a baby and as a result put me out of her house. I had to live with my aunt and other relatives throughout the majority of my pregnancy. This made me really sad and I felt alone. I got so depressed that I ended up dropping out of high school due to the stress and trauma related to all that what was happening in my life. I was also very angry with my family for not supporting me.
Home Visitation Support Prepared Me to Be a Parent
It was during this time the HBP Family Support Worker (FSW) visited me at my aunt’s home or wherever I landed that day. She met me every other week for about two hours at a time. My FSW advised me on everything from nutrition to breastfeeding to infant behavior and other issues in my life. I really needed the support and encouragement. My FSW was very open and accepting. She never seemed surprised about the turn of events in my life and because of that, I always felt understood.
I enrolled in Teen Parent Empowerment Program and enjoyed learning about all aspects of parenting and how to take care of my child. I felt so empowered and this has been priceless. It was also nice to meet other teen parents and I was able to form bonds with others who had similar situations.
I have been living on my own for some time and am currently completing my education at Options Public Charter School. I recently re-enrolled in the TPEP program in preparation for my second child and gave birth not long ago. My relationship with my family is much better and I felt much stronger during this pregnancy. I continue to attend weekly parenting classes and participate in the home visitation program. I appreciate the support, access to resources, and guidance.
This program works and I am living proof. Without the support of HBP, who knows what would have happened to my children. My life and story could’ve been so different. Thank you, HBP.
Healthy Babies Project has become a HFA affiliate (Home Families America) as a means of providing home visitation services to more at-risk, overburdened D.C. families thereby improving birth outcomes, child and maternal health, and access to medical care. Learn more.