One of the best ways to support someone in need is to be there for them when time gets hard. Just having someone show them care, lifts a lot of the burden, even for a little while. ‘Every mikkle mek a mukkle.’ When this is applied to an adolescent entering or going through being a parent, this type of encouragement leads to transformational parenting.
The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation hosted a conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre on April 16th to launch the Transformational Parenting: Reshaping Families initiative. The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) conceptualized the Initiative which was co-sponsored by UNICEF and American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ). In a bid to expose all students enrolled in the WCJF Program for Adolescent Mothers (PAM) to practical parenting skills, the Centre created the initiative. The WCJF Transformational Parenting: Reshaping Families initiative consists of the following activities:
- 12-week Adolescent Mothers’ Parenting Course
- Adolescent Mothers’ Parenting Conference
- Residential Training Course for Caregivers
- Parenting Lecture in November during Parents’ Month
Many persuasive speeches filled today’s launch which focused, mainly, on believing that becoming pregnant at a young age is not the end. Each young lady present was told to keep her head up and use this situation as motivation to be successful women. The teenage mothers received many examples of women who ‘against all odds,’ went on to become successful citizens of Jamaica and the world.
Executive Director of the WCJF, Dr Zoe Simpson stated that “At the WCJF, we are mindful of the fact that the adolescent mothers are children who are expected to parent their children. We’re also mindful of the fact that, if the adolescent mothers are to succeed at parenting their children, they will need to be specifically and strategically taught how to do so.” She went on to state that the WCJF is never satisfied with their last performance and are always looking for ways to increase and improve the Centre’s offering. This continuous interest in improving moved the Centre to create, “a holistic and multifaceted parenting initiative in Transformational Parenting.”
Prepare For Your Life
Executive Director of the AFJ, Ms Caron Chung, highlighted how important it is for each young lady to take care of their health when going through the process. She also honed in on education and goal setting. “The better your education is, the better you will be able to provide for your child. You have to be focused on your goals and stay at it non-stop.” She also emphasized that the young ladies should focus on the life of the child along with their own lives and not worry about what other people are thinking or saying. She concretized that statement by saying, “Things happen! Move on!” Another constant theme for the day was, ‘do not give up’, which was reiterated by most of the speakers.
UNICEF Representative, Ms Mariko Kagoshima, brought remarks. She paid attention to preparing for the baby and keeping your life as stress-free as possible as it will directly impact the relationship with the child. Her anecdotes went well with the audience as many of the people in attendance understood the sentiment about having no manual on parenting.
Life Goes On
Permanent Secretary, Mr Denzil Thorpe, who spoke on behalf of Minister Olivia Grange, also had anecdotes which touched home. He told personal stories about not listening to the noise that society will bring into your life but know that ‘life goes on’. The Minister’s message concentrated on the need for support for adolescent mothers. She gave kudos to the WCJF for the initiative which will directly impact the nation through teaching better parenting techniques and skills. She also thanked the WCJF for being the needed support system which practices shared parenting.
Know Your Worth
To deliver the Key Note Address, the attendees heard from the Children’s Advocate of Jamaica, Mrs Diahann Gordon Harrison. Mrs Gordon Harrison took time to break down the title of the initiative. She took each word and broke it down to actionable advice. By the end of her address, there was a clear picture and pointed commands on how to carry ourselves in our society. One such order was to make sure that you think, and know to yourself, your worth. “You must never settle for an ordinary approach or any basic experiment which does not respect your value or earns your attention. Learn to demand more. Learn to walk away by saying, I’m worth more than that”. She went on to remind each young lady why they need to be careful with what they say and do around their children. She pointed out that the child is listening attentively and will duplicate what they hear.
Mrs Annette Neil-Harrison of the WCJF approached the podium. She gave an understanding of what ‘having it rough’ really is as an adolescent mother. Her support circle was non-existent, and that left her wandering the roads throughout the night. Her mother did not want to be associated with any baby, so she locked her out. It was the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation’s programme which took her in and gave her the support she needed. She ended by introducing everyone to her daughter and two grandchildren who are all hugely successful.
The event was impactful, engaging, empowering, hopeful, and helpful all in one. The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation has done wonderfully by creating this initiative. Generations to come will feel the impression of this initiative.