Below is an Op-Ed written by a Generation Citizen class of 11th graders with Ms. Soljane Martinez at Highlander Charter School. Skyliya wrote a letter about her experience as a teen mother a year ago for their school paper, and with the assistance of the class, they have edited that letter to become a call for civic action and raise awareness of incredibly important legislation that is being considered.
The day I found out I was pregnant changed my life forever, and still, to this day I can’t believe that I’m a mommy at 15 years old. I have a son, and his name is Jaiden. He was born on March 10, 2015.
Some days are better than others.
Sometimes when I’m in school I get a little emotional because I know that my peers around me still have their childhood, and when they go home at the end of the day they don’t have to deal with the responsibility and stress of taking care of a baby.
There are days when I just want to give up and not care about anything, but I know that I have someone looking up to me. If I could go back in time I would definitely change things, although I don’t regret my son at all. He paints a bigger picture for my life that I would’ve never thought of. He turned my life around in a positive way. I’ve matured so much during this past year and sometimes I wonder how it’s going to be for me after I graduate high school knowing that I’m going to be 18 years old having to take care of my son, when I’m just starting life for myself.
Parenthood is the leading reason that teen girls drop out of school. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by the age of 30. This is why our class has decided to advocate for support relating to human services for parents, specifically in the form of child care assistance. Many parents, especially teen parents, do not have enough money to support their family. Helping parents pay for child care allows them to continue their education, get a job, and make a positive impact in the community.
We can do something to support our kids and their kids. This legislative session, there is a bill being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly, Senate #S2130 and House #7115. The bill will provide appropriate childcare to families that fall within or below 200% of the federal poverty level ($48,600/ year income for a family of 4) in order to help them meet work requirements so they can feel safe while they’re not by their child’s side and trust their child is being take care of adequately so they can work and make a living.
This is beneficial to me because it gives me the opportunity to finish high school with no pauses in my academics. Knowing that my son will have somewhere to stay while I’m trying to better myself takes a huge weight off my chest.
-Skyliya Briggs & General Citizen Highlander Class