SUPPORTING TEENAGERS WITH EDUCATION, MOTHERING & MENTORING
Our current Twenty Five to Strive campaign is raising money for Quota International Coolum and one of the wonderful and incredibly worth benefactors for these funds is STEMM.
STEMM is a multi-award winning program that supports pregnant girls and young mothers in a safe, non-judgemental environment with individual support plans developed by trained case managers.
Each girl who attends STEMM is given the opportunity to develop life skills, parenting, self-worth, healthy relationships, pre & post birth plans and physical & emotional well-being and in partnership with Education Queensland, the University of the Sunshine Coast, Horizon 2 and TAFE East Coast are able to re-engage with learning pathways towards certified outcomes.
With access to a variety of experts involved in maternity services, breastfeeding, child health including a counsellor, social worker and doctor.
We were lucky enough to speak with Jacqui from STEMM in relation to the amazing work that herself, and this organisation is doing to help embrace and elevate the girls who attend their program
How long has STEMM been operating for and HOW did this come to fruition?
STEMM has been operating for 11 years. I founded it after having a young girl in my Yr 8 Maths class that was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant with my third child.
What I could see was that my pregnancy was being congratulated and celebrated and hers was being judged and condemned.
What I knew of this young girl was she came from a very dysfunctional family and she desperately wanted to stay at school as this was her safe space.
The school tried to support her but eventually, she had to leave. I then became a mentor at a young mums playgroup where I discovered that many of them wanted to go back to school.
From here I decided that as a teacher I needed to try and find a place for these young mums. After many knockbacks, I finally found a school that would allow me to set up a program and support these young mums. And so STEMM was born!!
What is the most satisfying - and the most difficult aspects of working at STEMM
I think the most satisfying aspect is to see our young women grow into wonderful mums and empowered women. Many of our young women come to us with very low self-esteem, many in domestic violence and feeling lonely and isolated.
To see them grow, gain independence and value themselves and their relationships with their children is amazing. I feel very privileged to be allowed to be a part of their lives and walk beside them on this journey.
I think the hardest aspect is to see them 'broken' and feeling worthless and helpless. It breaks my heart when I see these beautiful women have no confidence in themselves.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a young mum who feels like she is struggling?
Parenting is hard at any age but particularly when you are young and have little or no support. "Reach out, seek support, you've got this! Don't give up"
Has the work at STEMM changed the way you look at life/people?
I don't think it has changed the way I look at people, but the message I want to put out to the community is 'don't judge, you don't know the other persons story' and I feel that as women, it is our responsibility to look after other women, particularly those who don't have families to support them.
What do you think other people should know about STEMM?
STEMM is an amazing program that supports pregnant and parenting young women to re-engage in education. All of the young mums who come to STEMM choose to come because they want to make a better life for themselves and their children.
They needed to be commended for this as it isn't an easy journey for them.
How can people get in touch with you if they would like to volunteer?
What skills do they need? People can get in touch with us through our website or ring directly on 0754 597 376.
Would you like STEMM to grow or evolve – and if so how.
I would love for STEMM to be duplicated throughout Australia so that every young mum could access to the support they need.
***4/12/19 UPDATE we are extremely honoured and proud to have donated $8525.00 to Quota Coolum this year!!!! Dresses that make change...
See the Facebook live here for the BIG CHEQUE.