‘A nor­mal school - just with ba­bies’

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

Duck­ing out of class to breast­feed your baby makes school work just that bit more dif­fi­cult.

These days Kim Ed­monds, 21, is study­ing law at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity but it was at a Welling­ton school for teenage mothers she did most of her learn­ing.

‘‘I’ve al­ways wanted to be a lawyer and just be­cause I’ve had my son doesn’t mean I can’t do that.’’

Ed­monds started study­ing at Tawa’s He Huarahi Ta­mariki [a chance for chil­dren] af­ter she got preg­nant at 16 and had to leave her orig­i­nal school.

‘‘It was hard try­ing to learn with a baby but it worked out be­cause we could have them with us.’’

Ba­bies are cared for in the on­site preschool where par­ents can visit them, some­thing the young par­ent found cru­cial to her abil­ity to learn.

‘‘Luca was five weeks old when I started here and I cried the night be­fore I started be­cause I was so wor­ried about leav­ing him.

‘‘But the staff were won­der­ful. I could leave class, go see him, feed him, and have a few cud­dles then fin­ish my work and get some more cred­its.’’

The school was the dif­fer­ence be­tween hav­ing a fu­ture and ‘‘be­ing a statis­tic on the ben­e­fit,’’ Ed­monds said.

‘‘When the mother is welle­d­u­cated, it passes on to the child - I don’t want to have peo­ple ac­cus­ing me of be­ing a leech on so­ci­ety. It’s a nor­mal school, just with ba­bies. We’re nor­mal teenagers but we just know how to par­ent.’’

As a preg­nant 16 year old, Am­ber Woods achieved her NCEA level 1 at the Tawa school be­fore baby Win­ter was even born.

Now 20, Woods is study­ing So­ci­ol­ogy and Cul­tural An­thro­pol­ogy at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity and puts her suc­cess down to He Huarahi Ta­mariki .

‘‘They’re not just teach­ers, they’re car­ers and so­cial work­ers. I felt like I was never given a chance be­fore I came here and I got that chance here. These peo­ple are my fam­ily now.’’

Orig­i­nally known as ‘‘the school in the pub’’ be­cause it was housed in the Can­nons Creek Pub, the school opened in 1996.

It was first of a group of New Zealand schools to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents who were un­able to com­plete their ba­sic, for­mal ed­u­ca­tion be­cause of preg­nancy or child­birth while of school age.

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