NEWS / EVENTS
RhiAnne & Kimberly
TEEN PARENT PROGRAM OFFERS SUPPORT, REDUCES ISOLATION
By Claire Louge, First Things First Parent Awareness and Community Outreach Coordinator
Yavapai Regional Partnership Council
When RhiAnne found out she was pregnant at age 16, the bullying and name calling she endured at school got so bad that she decided to drop out. Fortunately, RhiAnne learned about a program called Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services (TOPS), a free program for adolescent parents funded by First Things First in Yavapai County. Through TOPS, teen moms and dads attend parenting classes, participate in weekly support groups, and receive in-person and on-call support from a registered nurse. The goal of TOPS is to make sure young mothers have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
When she enrolled in TOPS, RhiAnne was relieved to find that it was a non-judgmental environment dedicated to supporting her and wellbeing of her baby. RhiAnne was also able to develop strong friendships with other young mothers, reducing her sense of isolation.
When the teen parents attend parenting classes, they are awarded “TOPS dollars” which they can use to buy necessities such as baby clothes and diapers at Jensen’s Corner, the TOPS store. RhiAnne said that given the cost of raising a child, this part of the program has been especially helpful.
RhiAnne is now the mother of a healthy 4-month old daughter, Adalayh. She said that becoming a mom has permanently changed her perspective on life. “I’ve been thinking about my life recently, and I realize that I’m now much more concerned with my daughter than with myself,” RhiAnne said. “I want what’s best for her, and I know I have to do something with my life so that I can make a good life for her.”
Now, with the support and guidance of the TOPS program, RhiAnne has gone back to school to complete her GED and plans to pursue higher education.
Kimberly, young mother of 9-month old Junior, enrolled in TOPS when she was five months pregnant. She says that having the personable, knowledgeable and non-judgmental support of the staff at TOPS has made a world of difference. “Before TOPS, I knew nothing about pregnancy or raising a child,” said Kimberly. “TOPS has taught me everything I know about being a mother.”
With the guidance of TOPS, teens like RhiAnne and Kimberly are able to get the information and guidance they need to be the best parents they can be. For more information about TOPS or to refer a teen, please visit teenoutreachaz.org or call (928) 772-5590.