It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
For many parents, the job of raising children is as challenging as it is rewarding. But when the parent is a teenager, the task can be even more overwhelming. Missouri Mentoring Partnership is one organization with a mission of empowering young parents with tools for success. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann talked with a young parent, and the program’s coordinator, and has this report.
That’s Alissa Jecklin, program coordinator for Missouri Mentoring Partnership. She’s giving me a tour of the facility in Missouri State University’s building on Park Central Square. We sit down to talk in a large room used as a resource center, where the program holds parenting classes, support groups, and meetings. One entire side of the room is filled with toys for small children; the other walls resemble a small library with books and pamphlets for parents.
This Springfield chapter of Missouri Mentoring Partnership, or MMP, is one of nine such programs throughout the state. Jecklin says the program is all about connecting teens with mentors in the community. The mission is to give teens a positive support system and provide tools for them to be successful and independent. One part of the program mentors teens in the workforce, and the other program mentors teens for parenthood.
“I think a lot of times, young parents get stereotyped like they don’t know what they are doing, they’re going to have a hard time, and that kind of thing. And our parents really kind of prove that stereotype wrong. They all are here because they want to be here. They’re choosing this for themselves, for their children, for their families. And they just really want support, they want help, and they want to be good moms and dads. And they’re doing that,” Jecklin said.
Jecklin says the program provides emotional support, as well as pregnancy and parenting education, and other helpful incentives.
Amy Stults started with the program when she was 17 years old, and has been with it now for a little more than two years. She’s married with a two year old son and a baby on the way. Stults says she is really grateful for the emotional support she receives from her mentor, the program staff, and from the other teen mothers. She adds she wouldn’t know what she would have done without incentive programs like the ‘Baby Store.’
“If you go into a meeting, one of the groups, they give you five points for showing up to the group. And that’s worth five bucks. And if you meet with your mentor they give you five points a week. The ‘baby bucks’ they add up over time and they have two baby stores a year. [They have] clothes, toys, and just about everything you need for kids and pregnancy. We bought two first aid kits there,” Stults said.
Stults says that she has had two different mentors during her time with the program, and she feels she has benefited from each one in different ways.
“My first mentor, she was a mom. Being able to get out with another mom was really great. To be able to sit down, you know, and have ‘mom talk.’ And them my other mentor she’s around my same age, she’s just a little bit older. And so it’s nice to have someone around my age to spend time with, and not always with a two year old,” Stults says as she chuckles.
Stults says she would like to stay with the program until she is no longer eligible as a participant. She said she would then like to become a mentor herself so she can help someone else as she feels she has been helped.
Coordinator Alissa Jecklin says teens are referred to MMP through many community programs like the Doula Foundation, the Rare Breed, pregnancy care centers, and area hospitals, to name a few. Teens can enter the program at any age, and must commit to one year. Jecklin says that after that first year, many decide to stay on longer.
Jecklin says that they are always looking for good mentors for the program. Each mentor is assigned to just one family at a time, and so there is always a need.
“Mentors have to be at least 21 years old. They don’t have to be students. They don’t have to be parents themselves. They just have to be willing to be a positive support and spend time with a young mom or dad. And just make that commitment to be a part of their lives and help them out,” Jecklin said.
You can finda link below for more information.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here to learn about the Missouri Mentoring Partership