SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–According to a recent report by the organization, Opening Doors for Young Parents, 67,000 people in Missouri are parents between the ages of 18 to 24.
Emily Duncan got pregnant three years ago at the age of 19. She credits organizations like Missouri Mentoring Partnership with helping her and her child.
“There are definitely challenges and it’s definitely an adjustment whenever you first have the baby, but since then it’s just been such an incredible experience, he’s so fun,” says Duncan.
Three years ago, Duncan’s life was changed forever the moment she gave birth to her son, Leeden Welsch.
“I had to grow up a lot, you don’t get to do the stuff that you typically do when you’re 19 when you have a child. You don’t hang out with friends as much, go out things like that, but it’s definitely worth it,” says Duncan.
“What we do is connect our youth with a community mentor who is like a support system, a listening ear, somebody that can kind of give parenting advice to them,” says Timmarie Hamilton, program coordinator for the Missouri Mentoring Partnership.
Missouri Mentoring Partnership is an organization that has helped Duncan and hundreds of other young parents in its 20 year existence.
“It is those little things. For instance, we work with Diaper Bank of the Ozarks so we help them offset not enough diapers for the whole month, but it might help a little bit to where it’s one less package of diapers that they’re having to buy,” says Hamilton.
More than the necessities, Missouri Mentoring Partnership emphasizes that young parenthood is not a career ender. Duncan is living proof.
“I actually graduate with my bachelor’s degree in human services next month and then I plan to either go to physician assistant school or nursing school and become a nurse practitioner,” says Duncan.
For more information about the Missouri Mentoring Partnership’s young parent program, click here