Thursday, August 2, 2012

Group for Teen Moms in NYC

Briefly introduce yourself
My name is Gaiana, I am seventeen years of age.  I am an avid reader and lyrical dancer.  I looooveeee playing sudoku and taking pilates is what prevents me from not going insane. 

Although you are not a teen mother what compelled you to start a group for teen moms?
I've always wanted to do something different. I've realized that I don't want to just exist, but I would also want to live my life in a way that also helps others.  In the fall of 2011, I started volunteering with the Sisters of Life.  They are an organization of sisters who service women in difficulty and spread the pro-life message.  I was inspired by these sisters and I wanted to help.  Since I'm not trained for life counseling or anything, I made it my mission to start something new, something that I didn't already see in our community.  I noticed there weren't many teens reaching out to the young mother community.  I gathered up some of my friends, Chayanne, Amber, and Tiffanie. They are members of the Sixteen Candles for Life board and they help in making decisions for Sixteen Candles.  Without these girls, Sixteen Candles for Life would not have been possible. 

Why did you choose the name Sixteen Candles for Life?
Many people ask me about our name.  "Sixteen Candles for Life" is suppose to take away any negative connotation between the number 16 and pregnancy.   Candles represent light, life means life.  We are a group that cherishes life and celebrate the young mothers who despite all odds upheld life and its importance. 

What type of things will your group offer teen and young mothers?
We provide them with a safe, judgement-free environment where they can share their feelings, where we can have open discussions about anything they may have on their minds.  We offer spiritual support, if anyone has any special prayer requests or anything.  We offer academic support and emotional support.  It's all about support from young women their own age. 

Does the media’s perception of teen mothers have an impact on how you or your generation view teen moms?
Shows such as "Sixteen and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom, Teen Mom 2" are truly a disappointment to most of the people to which I have spoken.  They embellish the struggles of young mothers in a way that is anything but positive.  I bothers me that there was an odd transition from "Sweet Sixteen" to "Sixteen and Pregnant." The media's priorities have shifted from focusing on celebrating this milestone in a girl's life to gaining economic growth through the hardships of girls in tough situations.  The media does not accurately portray teenage mothers so I think that makes it difficult for the teen community to fully understand and empathize with teen moms.  This makes it difficult for teens to help young mothers stay in school and reach their goals because there is no relationship being built among one and other. 

When and where will Sixteen Candles For Life meet?
We meet at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community center: 34 West 134th street, New York, NY 10037 the first and third Fridays of every month from 4pm-6pm.

Wonderful! Is there anything else that you would like attendees to know? 
We do not judge our moms if they have had any previous abortions.  We are not here for abortion counseling, we do not force the pro-life message on these mothers in any way, shape or form.  We only celebrate and congratulate them on making such a tough, but rewarding decision to keep their child.