Baby puts teen back on track

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2013
Shawnee Ormsby-Ryder
PHIL REID/Fairfax NZ

INSPIRED BY BABY: Shawnee Ormsby-Ryder, 18, found her daughter, Ree-anne Ryder, to be a trigger for education.

Relevant offers

Education

Support for university's porn ban How do you choose the right high school? Call for hospital name change Upgrades rocket Hadlow school into the future $250k to sweeten PPTA's pot after Novopay debacle Drawing can be good for learning Educators told they need to take risks Google internship a top result Democracy goes to pot at school Doubts over tests for years 9 and 10

Without her baby, teenage mum Shawnee Ormsby-Ryder would have gone off the rails.

The Johnsonville mother of 1-year-old Ree-anne said she didn't have much going for her when she fell pregnant at 17 and gave birth last year.

Having a child dependent on her was the trigger she needed to get back on track.

Research by University of Canterbury's Jenny Hindin-Miller backs up teen parents' motivation to go back to school and defy society's perception that teen pregnancy is "a personal and social disaster".

Ormsby-Ryder thought her life was over when she discovered she was pregnant but was overwhelmed by a desire to learn and set goals when her baby arrived.

"I was wagging school every afternoon and didn't know what I wanted to do and didn't really care.

"That's different now. After I had Baby I was determined to get as much education as I could to go and do nursing," she said.

Having a child has enriched her life and, without Ree-anne, she doubts she would be studying at Wellington's teen parent unit, He Huarahi Tamariki, in Tawa. "I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be getting my credits. I don't know what I would be doing but this is definitely life-changing."

This year the 18-year-old is studying NCEA level 2 and plans to do a Gateway course next year before enrolling to study nursing. "I'm proving people wrong by being here."

Hindin-Miller said that, despite the stigma around teenage parents, her research showed childbirth was often a trigger for these women re-engaging in education.

"The attitude is that these women are children themselves and too young so they can't be fit parents. None of the women I interviewed had regret about becoming a teen parent."

There are about 4000 babies born to New Zealand teenage mothers each year and about 600 mothers are studying at teen parent units across the country.

"Becoming a parent in your teens can be an opportunity rather than a problem, as long as there's the right support," Hindin-Miller said.

He Huarahi Tamariki teacher-in-charge Helen Webber said the honours board at the school showed what could be achieved by teenage parents.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content