Date: March 24th, 2016
By: Kelly Connelly
Each year during the Healthy Teen Network national conference, it’s our honor to recognize programs, groups, and individuals for their outstanding contributions to the health and well-being of youth. Until April 29, we are accepting award nominations for our 2016 awards, including the Outstanding Teen Parent award. The acceptance speech from this awardee is, without exception, one of the most touching and moving moments of the entire event. The stories these parents share are full of hope, inspiration, and valuable insight.
As we look forward to learning about even more exceptional former teen parents, we thought now would be the perfect time to take a look back at our most recent awardees:
Commander (CDR) Aisha Mix, who became a mother at 15 then again at 16, is an adjunct faculty member at Morgan State University and a Senior Nurse Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Her current duty station is HRSA, the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for vulnerable people. She is also the Deputy Team Leader for a deployment team activated to meet health and human service needs following an emergency event or disaster. In her local community, she volunteers with two nonprofit organizations that promote educational attainment for adolescent parents.
While she was a student at Florence Crittenton high school for young mothers, after having her son while a teen, Lesley identified a need for education within her school and successfully advocated for and created a club focusing on teaching comprehensive sexuality education to teen moms. After graduating from college, Lesley was hired as the first of two Youth Advisors at the Colorado Department of Public Health Environment, serving as a youth advisor to state agencies and local organizations on issues related to youth sexual health and youth-adult partnerships.
Corey Jones, who became a father at the age of 16, started his career as a Peer Educator for the No Kidding program with YouthLaunch, where he educated youth on the rights, responsibilities, and realities of teen parenthood. During his eight years there, he led a team of peer educators, helped develop the curriculum that was used to teach and train the peer educators, and traveled around the county speaking about the life of a teen parent and how youth development programs can empower young parents to achieve their life’s goals.
Lisa Carter (2013)
After giving birth to her first child as a young teen, Lisa Carter later advocated for services needed to succeed in school and worked as a Teen Advisor at the Adolescent Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in Boston. She educated teens about making healthy decisions and the importance of goal setting. Later, worked as part of Boston Medical Center’s Teen and Tot program, where she collaborated with a medical team to ensure young parents received the services needed to parent effectively.
Leah Hebert (2012)
Leah Hebert became a parent at age 17, an experience that shaped the path for the rest of her life. Almost 25 years later, she is the Executive Director of Open Arms of Minnesota, an organization that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening and chronic illness in the Twin Cities. Prior to joining Open Arms, Leah was the Executive Director of myHealth for Teens and Young Adults.
Todae Charles (2011)
Todae Charles is currently the Executive Director of Uplifting Lives in Families Together (U-Lift), a Texas-based nonprofit organization that she founded. U-Lift provides families and individuals with training, resources, and support to become self-sufficient and prosperous. Previously, Todae served as the Teen Parenting Program Coordinator at the Family and Leadership Empowerment Network, where she helped develop and administer the agency’s teen parenting program and other activities for teen parents.
As you can see from reading just the smallest snippets about these former teen mothers and fathers, while parenting as a teen presents some unique obstacles, so many go on to achieve personal and professional success. If you know—or are—a former teen parent with a similar story, we would love to hear about it!
About the Author
Healthy Teen Network Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Kelly Connelly, BA, is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer, and she is experienced at developing skills-building workshops and programs, for professionals as well as youth.