I am LaTerrica, a YOUNG MOM, and this is my story.
LaTerrica, 22, lives in Rockingham County, NC with her three children.
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator
I have lived in Rockingham County, NC for three years, since about late 2014. Before living in Rockingham County, I lived in Alabama where my mother’s family lives. I spent much of my teenage years in the foster care system because of some family issues that were going on. While in foster care, I learned that using available programs and services offered by the state and local government provided resources to improve life situations. For example, while in the foster care system, I was able to attend workshops and conferences, which taught me how to become independent, how to apply for programs and which social programs would best help me to meet my goals. One goal I had since living in Alabama was to become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). I started taking CNA classes after I emancipated from foster care, however, I soon stopped taking class when a number of different life events happened. After becoming emancipated, I lived with my mother while taking classes at my local community college and working. However, my mom’s roof collapsed at her home and the living conditions made it difficult for me to live at her home while maintaining my school and work schedule. I was also relying on a friend (who was like a sister to me) for transportation. I found myself couch-surfing at friends’ houses but never telling them I didn’t have a place to stay. My transportation was not always reliable because my friend and I had such different schedules. I was unable to get to work nor maintain my school schedule. I started thinking about making a change.
From Alabama to North Carolina
Between my living conditions, unreliable transportation and the death of a very close friend, my goals were put on the back-burner. I was forced to pause all I had worked to achieve. I knew this was a time for a change. The big change came in July 2014, when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child. During one of my conversations with my father, who is from Rockingham County, I shared all of what was going on in my life. He suggested that I should relocate to Rockingham County and I did after I gave birth. I moved in with my dad and my new baby. This was a totally different environment for me, a new community. In fact, I only really talked to my dad and some people around my neighborhood including my boyfriend. I started feeling complacent, but relied on the skills I learned while in foster care- to check out community resources.
When I moved to Rockingham County, I applied for Medicaid and the Work First program, which helps to put applicants in a job training program and apply for jobs. I decided to go back to the Certified Nursing Assistant program and finished this program successfully. I actually got my first job (after finishing this program) in February 2016! This was so exciting to me. My son was about 18 months old when I was directed to the Rockingham Partnership for Children where I applied for childcare. This is where I met Dawn (former coordinator of YFC Rockingham County) who talked to me about the benefits of the Young Families Connect program. My main reason for wanting to enroll in the program was the need to build my community here in Rockingham County.
Young Families Connected
When I moved to Rockingham County, I applied for Medicaid and the Work First program, which helps to put applicants in a job training program and apply for jobs. I decided to go back to the Certified Nursing Assistant program and finished this program successfully. I actually got my first job (after finishing this program) in February 2016! This was so exciting to me. My son was about 18 months old when I was directed to the Rockingham Partnership for Children where I applied for childcare. This is where I met Dawn (former coordinator of YFC Rockingham County) who talked to me about the benefits of the Young Families Connect program. My main reason for wanting to enroll in the program was because I needed to build my community here in Rockingham County. I later discovered I was pregnant with twins. YFC was very helpful for me during this time.
Since starting Young Families Connect, I have had my twins who are six months old (at time of interview). I have moved into my own apartment with my three children and boyfriend and I am working as a Certified Nurse Assistant. I have been able to grow my community from just my father, boyfriend and children to a wider group of people like other young families I have connected with in Rockingham County. In Young Families Connect, I have learned new skills like positive, effective approached for parenting toddlers; cooking healthy meals for my family; ways to be physically active with my family and also different things to do around Rockingham County and in Greensboro. Young Families Connect has helped me to become a part of this community.
I am Arturo, A YOUNG DAD, and this is my story.
Arturo Jones is 23 years old, he lives in Robeson County, NC with his partner Layla and their son Kayson, 4 years old.
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator (January 2017).
Before Young Families Connect
My son Kayson was born on January 23, 2013 while Layla and I were still in high school. At the time, I felt pretty immature with no real plans for the future but I did have some good guidance and support from my parents. My parents even opened up their home for Layla to move in with us until Kayson was born then got us an apartment for our new little family when Kayson was just a few months old. After high school, Layla started a phlebotomy program and I immediately started working to support my family. I landed a job as a Corrections Officer at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. I hated that job but enjoyed great benefits, decent income and increased my motivation to return to school. The job was much more mentally challenging than physically challenging and emotionally draining. It’s like being incarcerated: I was there 13 hours a day, in confinement with inmates and it really got quite depressing. I had to be a different version of myself, more firm and very demanding compared to who I am with Kayson. With Kayson, I’m daddy. I actually resigned from the job and decided to enroll as a full time student at Robeson Community College, in the Manufacturing program. I knew I wanted a different life for myself and my family.
Full Time Student
My day to day life as a full-time student has been very busy! Not only am I a full-time student but I am also a part time employee at a local company called XPO Logistics. When I wake up, I am responsible for getting Kayson prepared for school and dropping him off to daycare because Layla works about an hour away during third shift. After I take Kayson to daycare, I then prepare for my school and work day. Depending on her schedule, Layla will take Kayson to work and if there are times where my school and work schedule plus Layla’s work schedule conflict, then my parents, who are very supportive, will step in and help out with Kayson. Studying has been very difficult but I try to study at night after work while Kayson is sleeping or during weekends. Now, I’m a very active student as Public Relations Officer of the manufacturing club. I use my resources- take thirty minute breaks between classes (when available) to do homework, study and also do this same routine on weekends. I also participate in study groups with classmates to do the best I possibly can in school.
Getting to know Young Families Connect
During one of my classes, a classmate and I were talking about our children. She and I especially talked about the high cost of daycare expenses. This is when she shared with me that she was involved with the Young Families Connect program here in Robeson County. She further explained that the program provides all types of benefits like paying for childcare and school. I was concerned about whether or not the program would support fathers but my classmate said that the program does. When I heard this, I asked my classmate if she would provide me with a contact number to the program. When she gave me the number, I decided I would call and find out how I might get involved but first I talked with Layla; she supported the decision to participate in Young Families Connect. I immediately got in contact with Mrs. Virginia who told me to come right on in and told me which documents she would need from me to get enrolled. Talking to Mrs. Virginia really left me with a sense of comfort; she made me feel very welcomed and she’s been great to me and my family.
Young Families Connect: Support, Mentoring and Healthy Behaviors
I’ve been a Young Families Connect participant for two years now. I have really appreciated the way in which YFC offers support to young parents and their families. While Layla has been very supportive, I have been attending the weekly sessions where we learn about different topics like parenting; health and wellness; and self-sufficiency. I even see how I have personally improved myself in these areas of discussion since I’ve been active in this program.
For example, with parenting, I have learned tips on how to become a better parent, how to handle the Terrible Twos. Before, I would try to get Kayson to listen without punishing him but now I have better coping skills for his tantrums and use the skills learned in class to know what to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I step to the side and breathe, make sure to not have outbursts with Kayson. These skills have been helpful for mine and Kayson’s relationship and also for my overall health as a parent.
I learned so many things I didn’t know about before during the health and wellness sessions. For example, I didn’t know that second hand smoke was so bad. I’ve been around people who smoke a lot and now I know the dangers of smoking on a family. I have been getting more healthy by going to the gym three times a week. I’ve even lost 20 pounds since joining YFC. When I first enrolled in the program, I didn’t have any health insurance because I left my job where I was covered and I wasn’t eligible for my parents’ insurance. This was a major priority during my enrollment with Mrs. Virginia.
This program not only helped me with becoming a better parent and healthier person but it also relieved some financial stress for my family and me. Self-sufficiency is a major area in this program- helping participants to get jobs with job readiness programs and paying for tuition. During my first year in this program while also in the first year of attending school full time, I had to pay for my books and tuition out of pocket. I asked Mrs. Virginia if there is anything she can do and she provided me with financial assistance on books and tuition all throughout the semester! She also provided me with gas vouchers to relieve the financial stress of paying for gas to attend weekly YFC meetings. Furthermore, Mrs. Virginia helped our family with childcare expenses.
Two years ago, my focus was on continuing school, work and hopefully completing goals like obtaining health insurance, finish my Associate’s Degree in Applied Science and eventually gain full time employment. A good, stable job. Now, my focus is turning my job into a good career that I can be happy with. Graduate- continue to work, continue school, hope to complete goals (health insurance, finish Associate’s Degree in Applied Science**, and full time employment); initially wanted to have a good, stable job. Now my focus is on having a good career that you can be happy with and live my life. Now, I am planning to graduate with my Associates Degree in Applied Science- Electronics in May 2017. I am currently a full time employee at XPO Logistics where I do Customer Service and Dispatch. There, I am able to use my degree. I do plan to further my education with a Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). For now, I am happy with my positon, my co-workers and my life! My ultimate goal is to use my education to make sure their electrical panel on XPO trains are running properly. I have met my goals!
I would like to say to young dads who are in Young Families Connect- stick with the program, embrace all of the resources YFC has to offer. They’re just awesome. A lot of young men feel like a minority because there are so many women. Men also feel like seeking help is not masculine. I think we need to stop being so independent, everybody needs help.
For me, Mrs. Virginia has been the best mentor. She’s my go-to person, someone I can talk to. If it wasn’t for her or YFC, I wouldn’t’ be where I am today. I couldn’t afford to pay my tuition. I wouldn’t have been able to finish the program. Thank you to Mrs. Virginia and the team.
I am Sabrina, A YOUNG MOM, and this is my story.
Sabrina lives in Rockingham County with her partner, Joshua, and four children: Kaley (8), Hunter (6), Cayden (5), and Kolbie (2 months).
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator (November 2016).
*Names changed for confidentiality
Coming to Know Young Families Connect
I first found out about Young Families Connect (YFC) while I was in the Incredible Years parenting classes at Rockingham Partnership for Children. When the series was over, the YFC staff called and asked if I was interested in joining and I said,” yeah okay!” I’ve been a participant ever since, two years now. To be honest, I was initially in the parenting class because of a dispute between my ex(Kaley’s father) and me. Bob* and I, plus my boyfriend, Joshua, and my ex’s current wife were all supposed to take these classes but only Joshua and I completed the series.
Joshua is co-parenting all four of my children with me. However, my daughter Kaley lives with me half-time and with her dad and stepmother half-time.
Prior to taking the parenting classes, Kaley’s dad Bob*, stepmom (Sarah*) and I had a very hectic relationship. In fact, Sarah* even created a story that Kaley wasn’t my child and that she was Kaley’s birth mother. I think she created all kinds of drama to try to get me out of the picture. The Department of Social Services got involved, which is how I ended up having to take parenting classes to begin with. Sarah* also would block my communication with Bob* which really complicated how he and I co-parented Kaley. That was a very troubling time and we are still dealing with some of the stress from that period as we continue to co-parent in a blended family. But overall things are getting better!
Co-Parenting with a Blended Family
Because of the drama, we put Kaley in counseling when she was about six years old. It confirmed that Kaley was being manipulated by Sarah, Kaley’s stepmom. However the counselor informed us that there was nothing she could do about this. For example, Kaley calls me “Sabrina” instead of “Mom” and when I’ve asked her why she started doing this, she has said that if she doesn’t call me “Sabrina” then she would get a whooping. I understand that Kaley doesn’t have any control here, and so I have told her to do what she needs to do. But this is very hurtful to me. In fact, it has increased my anxiety.
This situation has not been easy at all! I have been resourceful in getting help including taking anxiety mediation. Luckily, the Incredible Years Parenting classes and Kaley’s counseling all took place at the same time (a little over two years ago) and both have been helpful tools for coping with this situation.
There are differences in my household and Kaley’s dad’s household. Here is what I do:
- I try to reinforce Kaley’s positive behaviors by having a positive relationship with her.
- I don’t ground her and punish her.
- I try to set aside special mom and daughter time.
- I remind Kaley that I am her mom and I gave birth to her. I show her pictures of us from her infancy.
My boyfriend Josh and I have been taking it day by day, really. Some things really stuck with me from the parenting classes like:
- My situation isn’t necessarily the worse situation.
- Pick your battles – do not snap or get mad at every little thing.
- Regardless of how bad it may seem, I can change my situation by applying the tools I’ve gotten from these programs.
After taking the parenting classes, my relationship with Bob* has improved and Sarah* is no longer intercepting our communication. However, Kaley is still suffering from all of the drama that took place previously. Kaley knows I am her mother and which roles all of the adults in her life play, but I feel her nerves are shot. She is doing what she must to live in her father’s house.
As a result of all of this, it’s been a bit difficult to parent my sons they way I’d like. Kaley not living here full time makes our family structure a little complicated, but we make sure we are getting all of our kids out and about, participating in karate (Hunter and Cayden) and having family time. Hunter (who is 6 years old) has a speech delay, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). Daphne, my Young Families Connect Case Manager has been exceptional with connecting us to resources for Hunter to get him all the help he needs.
When I joined Young Families Connect (YFC), I felt empowered by Daphne, my case manager. I liked how the YFC program had different kinds of get-togethers which allowed my kids to play with kids from other families. I have also been able to connect with other participants in the program. Sometimes we connect outside of our YFC facilitated group time and we have expanded our social circle as a result!
When I joined YFC, I wasn’t pregnant with Kolbie yet. In fact, my initial goals then were to become a better parent, lose weight, control my temper, and obtain a college degree. My plans derailed slightly because instead of losing weight, I gained a pregnancy. I had to rethink that plan! Instead, I focused on having a healthier lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. During my pregnancy, YFC staff provided me with a new crib, reassured me that they would be there for me as much as they could. I learned how to control my temper while I was pregnant. Some of the drama with Bob* and Sarah* were continuing during my pregnancy with Kolbie. I really feel like they were purposefully trying to sabotage my pregnancy with all of this drama. For example, Bob* and Sarah* were telling Kaley that Kolbie wasn’t Josh’s baby. I mean, really, they told my daughter this. I knew I couldn’t allow them the control over my pregnancy by entertaining this drama. I was able to transfer my energy from Bob* and Sarah* to my support with Young Families Connect.
Making Plans and Taking Action
Young Families Connect (YFC) has been so helpful to me in meeting my goals: controlling my temper, parenting, and obtaining a college degree. Daphne has helped me by showing me different strategies for calming myself down before I react. I especially make an effort to take time to breathe and to share what’s on my mind with a loved one who is not immediately involved in the matter I am reacting to. This loved one is usually my grandmother. I also try my best to bite my lip! Everything does not need a response! This goes hand-in-hand with what I learned about calming techniques in the parenting class, the Incredible Years, which was very helpful for improving my parenting skills.
I have reduced the amount of sugary foods and drinks my family and I have in our home. I have increased my cooking at home using some of the ideas that Daphne and YFC shared with us. The kids listened to Daphne’s suggestions for healthy eating which helped my healthy lifestyle goal. By the time I went into labor with Kolbie I thought it was going to be very easy, but it was actually pretty difficult. One of the things I most clearly remember, is my C-Section. I felt knots and pulling and tearing and then he was born. This is Baby Number Four so this isn’t new to me! The kids were excited about Kolbie, but Hunter took a while to catch on. With the addition of Kolbie in our lives, we have increased the level of structure with more detailed scheduling. Doing things like adhering to our dinner schedule and helping the kids become more independent makes my job a lot easier.
One of my goals was to obtain a college degree. I only had six months left to finish my Bachelor’s degree in information technology (IT) but I ran out of funding. My next step towards this goal is to get a job which will pay for the rest of my schooling. Right now, I am a stay-at-home mom to cut down on childcare costs. I plan to finish in the next year and half. I would like to put a large deposit on my education so that I am not relying on student loans. I ultimately want to finish school, buy some land to build a house (in about three years) and give my kids their own space! I am happy to say that I have an interview tomorrow as a live chat agent. This way I can work and stay home with Kolbie. My plan is already in action – work responsibly, save appropriately and take the next right steps to reach my goals.
To young women who need a resource like Young Families Connect – a note from Sabrina:
As I think back to my life before Young Families Connect and think about other young women and men who are in similar situations, I want to finally state that if a young woman is in need, please look for and use every resource you possibly can, starting with Young Families Connect. Daphne has been awesome. She is absolutely amazing to me and my family. She has been caring, thoughtful, and comforting. I am so grateful for her. She is always there and if I need resources she is quick to respond. Daphne allows me to reflect on my thoughts and shares her perspective when asked, instead of telling me what to do all the time. She has been a pillar of support for me and I cannot say that enough.
I am Jasmine, a YOUNG MOM and this is my story.
Jasmine V. is 24 years old. She lives in Wayne County with her partner Cee* and their son Skylar (2 years old).
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator (November 2016).
*Name changed for confidentiality.
I’ve always been very independent from the time I was young and growing up in Kinston. I’ve been the one (along with my stepfather) taking care of my siblings and our household. I was doing everything from cooking, cleaning, to getting them ready for their baths. I have never felt like I received the mothering and nurturing support I needed from my own mother. When I was young, my mother was out and about, living her life and going to BINGO (her second home.) I really felt like I didn’t have a childhood of my own. I’ve blocked most of it out, but I remember my siblings and me going to stay with other people and not seeing my mom for long stretches of time.
I know that there are some issues I have about my childhood. I’ve tried to talk to my mother about these issues to which she says “it’s not my fault, it’s y’alls fault.” She makes me feel like I’m guilty for my childhood and that makes me feel like there’s no point in talking about it with her. I know I will probably have to get some counseling because I don’t want these issues to affect me in the future.
As you can imagine, I was unable to rely on my mother when Skylar was a newborn and I felt like I needed some time for myself. My support system then (three years ago) was my partner, Cee*, who has been there every step of the way – working to support our household while I stayed at home with Skylar. During Skylar’s first six months, I was really battling with the “Baby Blues.” I felt like I was in a corner alone, with this new baby. I was with him 24/7 with no break and no sense of support from my family (mother, father, step-father or siblings). Even though Cee was there for us, she was working all of the time, which basically left me feeling as if I were in this by myself.
During this time, some of the thoughts and feelings I had made me feel overwhelmed. I worried about having to be the primary responsible adult for a child. I was questioning “can I really take care of a child, my child, by myself?” I was processing all of the “what ifs?” What if Cee and I break up? Would I be able to raise Skylar alone? What if I couldn’t raise him alone? I knew that I would have to take care of this child all by myself. With all these thoughts circling in my head, I would then look at Skylar and think I have no choice but to do this.
What I knew for sure was that I wanted my child to be able to depend on me. Unlike my childhood, I didn’t want him to wake up one morning without the lights on, without food in the refrigerator, or without the heat on. Unlike my childhood, I want my child to know that he comes before ANYBODY. I wanted to be a better mom to him than my mom was to me.
A Welcomed Introduction to Young Families Connect
About two years ago, Cee, Skylar and I moved to Wayne County from Kinston, because Cee got a job based in Goldsboro. Skylar was a little over a month old at this time. During this time, I had a few things I wanted to accomplish – like going back to school and getting a job. However, the school I wanted to go to wouldn’t accept my credits from the school I previously attended. Plus, I just couldn’t land a job. I had a sense of worthlessness. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to our household.
I hated that I was so dependent on Cee and I hated that I had gotten to the point where I hoped for support from the Department of Social Services (DSS) to buy food for our household with an EBT card. Turns out DSS wasn’t able to provide any assistance. They told me they weren’t able to help unless I was working or going to school. This wasn’t who I am. I had always been an independent, self-supporting person. With all of these thoughts and feelings, I had a total sense of worthlessness. As a new overwhelmed parent, I really just felt completely cornered and overwhelmed. I just needed a way out.
One day, while attending a child care appointment at Wayne County Social Services, a security guard stopped me. He asked me if I knew about the Young Families Connect program. As it turns out, the security guard stopping me was exactly what I needed. So, the next day, I called Ms. Diana. During my first conversation with Ms. Diana, she asked me if I wanted to join the Young Families Connect program. I wanted to be a part of the program because Ms. Diana and I just clicked. I don’t just see her as a case manager or social worker but like a friend. She’s someone I look up to. Young Families Connect is great support especially when you don’t have family. You can’t just have one person in your support circle, you need a group of people.
Sister, Mama, Aunty, Friend- A New Support System
Ms. Diana told all of us in the program that we can call her at any time, no matter what. In my experience Ms. Diana has always there for me, no matter the time of day. A lot of people don’t have that type of person in their life but she is that person for me. She’s a sister, mama, aunty and friend. I look up to her. I feel comfortable contacting her whenever I need to talk. She’s like that mama figure that I don’t really have. I can talk to her about anything on my mind. I have shared with her some of the things I have not been able to previously share with anyone else. I mean, if it wasn’t for Ms. Diana, I think I would have been really depressed. She’s been there for me, to listen to what’s been going on in my life.
Ms. Diana keeps it totally real with me. She’s like “if you have done it, it’s okay, I’ve probably done it too and more than once!” She makes me feel like it’s okay if I’ve had a hiccup in life, or am going through some difficulties, because she helps me see there’s always a way to move beyond that pitfall. Because of Ms. Diana I no longer have doubts about my ability to parent Skylar or my worth. I no longer allow my fears and frustrations from my childhood to consume me, even though I still want to resolve these issues.
I am most grateful for Ms. Diana and the other participants in the program. Being in Young Families Connect (YFC) allows me to have a place for Skylar and me to come and connect with other young families like ours. I was able to participate in the parenting class, and learn new cooking skills and ways to be keep my household safe and healthy. Since being in YFC, I have been able to get job training, land an interview and get a new job, thank the Lord! When I think of my life before YFC and since YFC I see a great change in my support system. I have gotten everything out of YFC that any participant can gain – friendship, support, a loving and nurturing community, and new skills to better parent my son and be the best Jasmine I can be. Even though my time as a participant is almost up (I’m graduating soon) I will still come back to participate on the YFC Community Advisory Council and mentor other young moms as much as I can. I can use my experience as an inspiration to them.
As told to Jasmine Getrouw-Moore, Young Families Connect Media Outreach Coordinator (September 2016).
*Name changed for confidentiality
When I joined Young Families Connect (YFC) last year, I already had my daughter, Faith, who was two and my son Liam who was a newborn. With both of my pregnancies, I experienced postpartum depression which made thing hard. I was still in my baby blues stage while dealing with a two year old who was going through the “Terrible Twos” stage. The way I was dealing with Faith then was by yelling at her in an effort to get her full attention. I felt pretty badly about this because I was yelling a lot. I also noticed her behavior was becoming more frustrating to me and my yelling was causing her to be a little scared.
After Liam was born, I ignored how I was feeling – keeping my depression and fears inside. But, by comparison, the post-partum depression I experienced with Liam was a bit different mainly because I had on-hand support from my family. My mother’s involvement during that time was very helpful. She also encouraged me to find and use local community resources and to participate in local parenting classes because she thought I was such a young mother.
During that time my sister-in-law, Jackie,* was already enrolled in Young Families Connect (YFC) and taking classes. I decided to take action and take my mother up on her suggestion. One day, when Jackie was talking about going to the Incredible Years parenting class, I asked her if I could come. She welcomed me to attend. I attended and enjoyed it! I found the class especially interesting since I was a young mom raising two young children.
It has been about a year since that first visit. After going to the class with Jackie, I decided to attend a “Parenting Over Pizza” session with the YFC group and immediately connected with a Case Manager who arranged a home visit with me. Looking back, a turning point in my life was visiting the Incredible Years class. But it was really the staff – Dawn, Daphne and others that were so amazing! They have been here for me emotionally, and the classes have been an excellent support for me as a young mother. When I joined YFC, I decided to focus on the things that would support my personal development because I wanted to model the lifestyle I wanted for my children. The areas I decided to work on were positive parenting, healthy weight and school.
After joining the Young Families Connect (YFC) program and attending a few meetings, I felt like the YFC Program could really help me do some amazing things. I appreciate how YFC has classes for participants that help motivate and encourage participants to reach personal goals.
With the help of my Case Manager I was able to identify three goals to focus on. I also created some action steps to help me meet those goals:
- Parenting positively
- Healthy weight/lifestyle
- Pursuing school to be a certified interpreter or nurse
Parenting positively: My primary goal in YFC was to polish my parenting skills, to be a good mom and to have more patience in dealing with my kids. I like that each class that YFC facilitates is totally family-centered, meaning they focus each session on positive parenting.
Healthy Weight/Lifestyle: Another goal for me was to have a healthy weight/healthy lifestyle. I wanted to be able to lose some weight. Through YFC I was able to learn new ways to prepare my meals and to modify ingredients to make them healthier. As a group, my peers and I went on walks with our YFC team and measured our distance using a pedometer. I also learned the correct portion sizes of food – what I need versus what I want.
School: I have wanted to go back to school but at this point Liam is only one year old. Juan* and I decided that we would not put him in daycare now. I will wait to pursue my academic goals when Liam is a little older.
Taking it Day-by-Day
I recognize that creating goals for myself is a way for me to create a blueprint for my life. I have not totally accomplished all of my goals yet but I have been taking things day-by-day. I appreciate the growth I’ve made and recognize the challenges. Having the connection t YFC program staff and my peers in the program and the classes I’ve participated in, has really helped me to work through challenges such as my postpartum depression and my goal to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Parenting positively: Looking back on the last year, I have made a huge change. With the help of my YFC Case Managers and my participation in the Parents As Teachers program (in partnership with YFC at Rockingham Partnership for Children), I have had the benefit of having an in-home case manager who has worked with me on my positive parenting goal. It’s not been easy. Faith is now a three year old who is very active and requires attention like any three year old. Liam is developing into an active toddler.
While I proudly live the values of the parenting programs I’ve been in, I am constantly working on myself. Now, I find myself speaking to Faith and not yelling at her (the old way). My patience has increased and I listen to and more aware of Faith’s and Liam’s needs. I try to show that I am here for them and support them. I now have the tools to be able to communicate better with Liam as he grows. Every day I use the tools I’ve gained with my children and have a clearer understanding of how to calm myself down. I know that my reaction to Faith is a model for how she is going to act. I also understand the power of play – that doing something as simple as taking 10 minutes to play makes a huge difference in my children’s overall behavior.
Healthy weight/lifestyle: In the beginning I was losing weight because I was using the skills I learned to take better care of myself. I have not been doing this as much lately but I am still proud to say that I have gained an awareness of how to take good care of myself. For example, by doing daily activities such as cooking, cleaning and walking around the house I am using physical energy.
Some of the supportive ways in which YFC has helped me to maintain a healthier lifestyle has been the cooking class where we learned how to make a frittata and about appropriate portion sizes. I have also been walking with my kids when we go to the park where my husband plays soccer.
The main thing I’ve learned is the smallest things I do are still important in my healthy lifestyle. It’s an everyday process that I plan to continue to work on day-by-day!
Family Vibes and Looking Ahead
I have been using the tools I’ve gained in the Young Families Connect Program (YFC) to educate my loved ones like my husband, Juan. Juan hasn’t been able to participate in many YFC classes with me due to his heavy work schedule, but I try to share with him all of the knowledge I have gained from my YFC involvement. He listens to what I’m saying once he sees that these tools work.
Generally speaking, support from my family during my YFC participation has been outstanding from my sister-in-law, Jackie, and my mother. I am happy to have learned about the program through Jackie and also happy to have received some encouragement to engage with community resources from my mom. My mom is really happy about my participation in the YFC program, my use of newly learned parenting skills, and my connection to peers in the program. Family members have commented on my communication style with Faith Compared to last year they say they have noticed I don’t do much yelling, that Faith is much calmer and throws fewer tantrums.
While I have been in the program, I have noted that I should not expect my family members to adopt the exact same parent-child dynamic that I have learned through YFC. I know that grandparents express their love for their grandkids by simply spoiling their grandkids. I have learned not to let that frustrate me especially since my parents aren’t living close by.
In the near future, I want to continue to be a positive parent to both of my children. I also want to continue to work on some of my other goals such as healthy eating and returning to school. I have one more year with YFC and I plan to use this time well. I appreciate that the YFC staff continuously connects participants to resources and finds ways to help participants like me meet our goals. I am looking forward to all the classes we have, specifically the Love Notes relationship series, and any classes we have when our children are involved. Even when I graduate from YFC, I plan to always be around to use the resource and be a resource person for others. I am proud to be connected to YFC!
Durham Men: PPFA/BET Breast Party Ever
Here we see national organizations, NCCU, and the larger Durham community coming together to promote women’s health and wellness, especially breast cancer screening, in a fun and different way. What is special about this picture is that everyone in the frame is a man; yet this is a women’s health event. It shows that the community as a whole cares about young women and their health.
Early Voting – Midterm Elections
This is outside the early voting location in the Union on NCCU’s campus, and we can see a cross-section of the Durham community in the picture – old/young, black/white. This picture and the location of a polling station in a high-traffic, central location on the NCCU campus represents a couple of things: 1) The importance of voting for young people, especially to ensure women’s rights and access to things like contraception; and 2) Support for young people exercising their right to vote, especially when the legislature has made it more difficult.