Getting through high school is hard for most teenagers, let alone for those with a newborn baby.
But as a teenager in Courtenay, B.C., Taylor Major did just that, thanks in large part to a special program at her high school for young parents.
"My daughter was two weeks old and I would go to class and then I would come back to the daycare — it was sort of a daycare and support program for teen parents," said Major.
"It was really the reason that I was able to graduate, and graduate on time with my peers."
Now she's helping young mothers and fathers in Yellowknife do the same.
It's our first our first donation of any kind. - Taylor Major
Major started the Young Parent Program at École Sir John Franklin High School last year. The free program runs every Thursday from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. and is open to pregnant students and young parents who are attending any high school in Yellowknife.
Last week, the program got a funding boost from the Yellowknife chapter of 100 Men Who Give a Damn. The group meets several times a year and each member donates $100 to a local community cause. The donation typically amounts to about $10,000.
'Living two different lives'
As a student and a parent, young moms and dads are "living two different lives," said Major. This makes it hard for them to relate to other people their age.
"Things like the volleyball tournaments that they used to go to, those may not be the reality anymore," she said. "Without a support program in the school, without a daycare in the school, without that support, often school is the first thing that teen parents will drop."
The Young Parent Program offers that support. Teachers, friends and family of the young parents are welcome to participate. Student parents are encouraged to bring their schoolwork and, if they want, they can connect with a nurse.
There are also snacks and activities.
"We finished making baby beaver mittens, which was really cool because then the parents had that opportunity to create something for their child, and … that sense of accomplishment," said Major.
Getting the word out
Major said when she moved to Yellowknife, she was alarmed to learn there was no program for teen parents in high school.
The greatest challenge right now is getting the word of the program out to young people who might benefit from it, she said.
The money from 100 Men Who Give a Damn will help with that. Major said it will go toward marketing, as well as healthy snacks and program materials.
"[It's] going to go just such a long way. It's our first our first donation of any kind," she said.
Major hopes that next year, student parents who take part in the program will be awarded school credit.
"Getting them through the door is often that first step that's so big," she said.
"But once they're there … It sort of creates that sense of belonging in our school, and that's really what we want to foster, but we just have to get them there."