H.E.A.R.T.S. a Durham Non-Profit Helps Teen Moms Graduate and Thrive
Updated: Jan 26, 2020
In 2018, more than 8,000 teen girls became pregnant in the state of North Carolina with 259 in Durham County alone.
Many of these young mothers often drop out of high school, but a nonprofit is working to change that statistic by helping young moms become self-sufficient, independent and ultimately graduate. It's a milestone that helps them to create better lives for themselves and their children.
Every other Tuesday, Tameka Brown comes to Hillside High School in Durham to meet with young girls who are either pregnant, have given birth already or have experienced miscarriage. Brown, who has a degree in parenting and child development, started the nonprofit H.E.A.R.T.S. which stand for Helping Each Adolescent Reach Their Spark. She decided she needed to do something after watching the isolation her own best friend endured after becoming pregnant at 15.
"I was 15 and I could not help her and she was my best friend. We planned to go to college together. We planned our whole lives out," Brown said. Those plans faded for Brown's friend, and now she's on a mission to keep the dreams of these young students in focus by helping them set their sights on graduation and college.
"We have a 100 percent graduation rate and what that means is we've graduated every senior who has come through our program," Brown said.
That makes 39 graduates in all including Angel Hope who gave birth to her daughter Gabrielle on the first day of school her 9th grade school year. She was 15.
"I needed to graduate to show not only myself, but to show my child that no matter what happens, no matter what's going on. You can still graduate. You can still do what you want to do," Hope said.
Now a freshman at North Carolina Central University, Angel comes back to inspire other girls and to have hard conversations about the reality of being a teen mom.
"As a parent you have to prioritize your life. Always put your child first," Hope said.
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