Empowering teen mothers, transforming lives
By: Alexandra Hill, San Jose Advocate, and featuring Rosalinda R., Lesly H., Liliana V., and Tania G., Teen Success, Inc. Participants
Leadership opportunities are essential for any young person, they help them develop character, gain marketable skills, and seize new opportunities as they come their way. The challenges young mothers face, from transportation to access to extracurricular activities, are compounding and they don’t often get opportunities to develop their leadership skills, yet they are so critical to her and her child’s success in school and in life.
“I think it’s important for young moms to have leadership opportunities because it helps us learn how to plan things out and be more independent.” – Rosalinda, Participant Planning Committee Member, San Jose
Young moms are often not given leadership roles in schools because, upon becoming pregnant, they are funneled to continuation schools where extracurricular activities are not readily available. Transportation is a serious barrier to opportunities since public transportation can consume many hours of the day. Many of the young women we serve are working, studying and parenting, and sometimes their schedules do not allow for extra commitments. As for any mom, time is limiting factor.
This August, Teen Success, Inc. held the first ever cross-site leadership conference for young mothers in the Bay Area thanks to the United Way Youth Voices Campaign Grant. Teen Success, Inc. participants and their children from the Redwood City/East Palo Alto and San Jose programs attended a one-day leadership retreat at the Mission Springs Camp and Conference Center with their Advocates.
Four young women, Lesly, Liliana, Rosalinda and Tania, from both programs met regularly to plan the event for their peers with guidance and support from their Teen Success, Inc. Advocates.
“My favorite part of the summit was where we were able to work in groups and bond with other girls.” – Rosalinda, San Jose Participant
The day’s activities, from a scavenger hunt to an elaborate tower building activity, were focused on helping each young woman find her own leadership style and work as part of a team. Each young mom also had the opportunity to bond with her child in a natural setting apart from the pressures and responsibilities she faces at home, school, and work every day.
“I learned to keep an open mind to new ideas because not everyone enjoys the same things and I learned that giving your true opinion will help reach better results in the end. Being a leader was joyful for me. I would definitely do it again. Seeing the end results and all the girls happy with something you helped plan is an amazing feeling!” – Rosalinda, Participant Planning Committee Member, San Jose
As an organization that exclusively serves young mothers and their children, Teen Success, Inc. is uniquely positioned to bolster the voices of these young women and encourage them to become leaders within their communities.
“We look forward to continuing this tradition in the future.” – Alexandra Hill, Advocate, San Jose Program