Key wins over Nelson's next generation

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 16:11 07/06/2014

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Nelson's return-to-school teen mums have been given prime ministerial backing with John Key saying their education would help them become "immensely successful".

Nelson Young Parents' School, which is at Auckland Point School, has been operating since February last year, but was officially opened yesterday by the Prime Minister.

The school was originally established by Nelson Soroptimists and the Abel Tasman Education Trust at Nelson's Impact Church in April 2011, but moved to its current location last year.

Babies and toddlers play next door at Auckland Point Kindergarten, while their mothers study.

The unit was well integrated with the kindergarten and the primary school, which Key said was "critically important".

He said the work of units like Nelson's helped young mothers do "extremely well" in life.

Key said academic research showed young mothers who had children on their own often became vulnerable.

"It shows you that they are likely to be isolated, and potentially locked out of further education opportunities, probably likely to have more children and probably live on a lower income."

Once they got support and an opportunity to participate in education, he said they could go on to be "immensely successful".

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was a good example of this, he said, as she also had a child when she was a teenager.

Key said he wanted to make sure the students were equipped to get the lives they wanted.

"We will do everything we can to make sure you get the things you need and support you need."

Also at the opening was Nelson MP Nick Smith, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, kaumatua Andy Joseph, Nelson-based Labour MP Maryan Street as well as staff and supporters from the unit, school, and kindergarten and Nelson College for Girls, who govern the school.

The school's head teacher, Philippa Trewavas, said the girls were "courageous" for committing themselves to their education, and showed "resilience in the face of adversity".

The school has 13 students and expects the remaining seven spaces to be filled in the near future.

Student Nistazia Paulin, 18, is studying for her level 1 NCEA while her toddler Noah, was next door at the Auckland Point Kindergarten.

Noah has diabetes, and Paulin said it made life easier having him nearby in case anything happened.

"It's really good to come here and sit in an environment with other mums, we have a lot in common. It's good knowing that Noah is next door as well, especially with his diabetes, we can go over whenever we want."

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She said Key's visit was "really cool" and showed he was interested in what the teen unit was doing.

Smith said the Young Parents' School was one of the most innovative and positive projects that he had been involved with.

- The Nelson Mail

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