Teen parenting centre celebrates 25 years

When Kerri Scholz found out she was pregnant, she thought she had to quit school and look for a job. It was in the F.H. Collins Secondary School counsellor’s office that she was told about the Teen Parent Centre.

When Kerri Scholz found out she was pregnant, she thought she had to quit school and look for a job.

It was in the F.H. Collins Secondary School counsellor’s office that she was told about the Teen Parent Centre.

“The centre worked with me during my debilitating pregnancy sickness and allowed me to do course work by correspondence at home,” she said in an email.

“(Founding director May Gudmundson) was the best support, as she was caring yet didn’t allow us to become lazy or not get our work done. She motivated us to keep moving ahead.

“This is what made me try harder to finish.”

At 17, Scholz had her daughter and she continued attending classes at the centre.

They were able to have lunch together as they were only a few rooms apart.

Scholz said the daycare workers were crucial in supporting and encouraging her to complete high school.

“I was very proud and I know they were too, along with my parents and family, when I walked on stage to get my diploma that sunny day in June of 1993,” she said.

Scholz persevered and obtained two certificates from Yukon College: one in business administration and one in tourism and management.

Now a cabinet policy assistant in the executive council office, she began working for the Yukon government 15 years ago.

“The centre helped me get where I am today,” she said.

In Canada, teenage mothers are 17 per cent less likely to complete high school than their peers.

Since 1989, the Teen Parent Access to Education Society has been supporting young men and women in Whitehorse who want to finish their education while expecting or parenting.

It’s celebrating its 25th year by holding a fundraising dinner on Nov. 7 at the Teen Parent Centre School.

The centre, which opened in 1990, welcomes people up to the age of 21.

Over the years the society has supported more than 1,000 students and has taken care of over 400 children in the daycare.

Teacher and director Kathy Heinbigner, who has worked at the centre for eight years, said students often refer to it as a second home.

“We do very much try to create that atmosphere,” she said.

“The centre helps stabilize lives. We’re giving them the tools to move on in life.”

Currently there are 13 students on the books and three children at the daycare, even though they’re licensed for up to 19 children. The number of students fluctuates during the year.

Heinbigner estimates she’s had between 28 and 30 students annually over the past several years.

Charlotte Robert is a student who attends the centre with her one-year-old son.

She said she has a great relationship with the staff and feels like she can tell them anything.

“It’s also nice that it doesn’t cost anything,” she said.

“I want to get my education so I can find a career.”

All the services offered are free, including a hot lunch every day.

The society has been accessing funding from the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program for 15 years, Heinbigner said. Through that funding, they’re able to hire a part-time nurse.

The Department of Education provides the funding to hire a remedial tutor.

The Teen Parent Access to Education Society is holding its fundraiser dinner event on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., at the Teen Parent Centre School.

Tickets are $80 per person, which includes a $40 tax-deductible receipt. Those interested in attending can call Kathy Heinbigner at 667-3421. Seating is limited to 42 people.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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