‘A normal school - just with babies’
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.