A third of girls in the United States will get pregnant in their teenage years, according to preganatteenhelp.org.
“Pregnancy is a rite of passage and teenagers don’t have a concept of how life will change, “said Georgiann Shore, a volunteer at The Pregnancy Resource Center in Tyler, just off TJC’s campus.
Out of all the females that visit the clinic, on average 40 percent of the girls are actually pregnant and the remaining 60 percent are not.
“We preach abstinence, which is the only safe thing,” said Judy Page, who is also a volunteer at Pregnancy Resource Center.
Females who may be pregnant can visit the clinic, then will be administered a urine pregnancy test and receive instant results. The test can determine pregnancy as early as 10 days or 2 weeks from the last missed menstrual cycle.
During the trip, visitors will be counseled about options for pregnancy such as adoption. About 30-40 percent of patients place in Father Heart. Father Heart is located in Lindale and is a maternity home for expectant mothers. Mothers will be coached throughout the pregnancy, and educated other alternatives.
“We have found that most teenage girls are illiterate about their bodies, and are not sure when they are, and are not fertile,” said Shore.
On average, Pregnancy Resource Center serves women from 14-47 years of age, although most are 18-21. Most patients come from everywhere around the city. Pregnancy Resource Center gets a lot of business because the clinic is the only, in Tyler, to give free pregnancy tests as well as sonograms.
While visiting only 10% of the fathers’ or boyfriends come along with the mother, most of the time some may already have one to two kids. In some cases patients only come to get a pregnancy test to qualify for Medicaid.
“Usually most girls come to us first because they’re too afraid to inform parents,” said Karen Hopkins, another volunteer.
Although TJC does not have a daycare for students on campus, there is a Family Learning Center, which is open to anyone and has a daycare available, but it is not located on TJC’s campus.
“I would like to see a daycare on campus, and it would be very beneficial for students,” said Michele Knox, Perkins Data and Grant Coordinator.
TJC does have grants that are available and may assist single mothers or displaced mothers, such as the Perkins Grant. Perkins Grant helps many students that may need the extra help financing themselves, as well as their families. Also guides students in the right direction and helps stay on track.
“Oh my God, what am I going to do, I’m not ready for a kid,” said Jaleesa Goss, a sophomore at TJC.
On the other hand Goss, has a five-month daughter named Ameri, and explains how it’s not hard being a teen mom, and how she has to adjust to a new lifestyle and balance school.
“I don’t have any regrets, and there’s nothing I would change. She’s here, and I’m happy,” said Goss.
While still attending school Goss’ mother and grandmother lend a helping hand by taking care of Ameri. Goss’s main goal is to become a physical therapist and be the best mother she can be.
“It’s not about me anymore. It’s only hard for people that are selfish,” said Goss.
Although Goss is not really the “party type” she still enjoys spending time with friends.
“Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep pushing. It’s about them. Somebody believes in you,” said Goss.
For more information about the Perkins Grant contact Michele Knox at Mkno@tjc.edu or at (903) 510-2667. Or any questions or concerns about pregnancy contact Pregnancy Resource Center at (903) 592-4495.