Young mom Linda Harris is elated to be part of a school reintegration initiative which saw a total of thirty adolescent mothers completing a cake decorating and elementary cookery course at the Carnegie School of Economics today.
Eighteen-year-old Harris, a mother of a baby girl, told the Department of Public Information (DPI), “I did not get to complete secondary school and write CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examination so I’m really grateful for the opportunity to get a certificate in cake making. Currently, I’m not working so after receiving my certificate I will be able to get a job.” Harris also plans to open her own bakery in the future.
And Harris had some words of advice for fellow youths: “My encouragement to the youths is that best thing to do is take in your education, finish school and further your studies. Before you think about getting a boyfriend or making a child at a young age, stay in school and go and get your diploma, degree in whatever field you would like to get involved in.” Another beneficiary, Erica Gilks, a 21-year-old mother of one, said that over the past six months she has been able to develop cooking skills that will enable her to be employable.
The school reintegration initiative for teenage mothers is a collaboration between the Ministries of Education and Public Health and the Carnegie School of Home Economics. The initiative falls under the “We Care” programme, which is orchestrated under the Ministry of Public Health’s Community Parenting Support Groups.
During a simple ceremony at Carnegie, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, (DCEO) Dr. Karen Campbell told the youths that they must not let their circumstances limit their vision. “You need to have a vision for yourself and your child, you need to have a goal, a clear picture of where you want to be twenty years from now. Do not limit your vision.”
Myrna Lee, Principal of the Carnegie School of Economics expressed gratitude to the ministries for spearheading such an outstanding initiative which will have a significant impact on the lives of the young mothers. She commended all the students for completing the full 20 hours of the course.
Coordinator of the programme, Janelle Sweetnam said the programme seeks to link teenage mothers with their communities to provide them support in raising their child. The youths will also have the opportunity to further their studies if they so desire.
The programme aims to “reduce the vulnerability of young women to poverty and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), whilst providing them with the opportunity to complete their secondary education.