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Supporting young parents

Parenthood is full of challenges and rewards, but sometimes young parents can feel isolated and in need of support. Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Young Parents Support Program nurtures young families who need it most. Rohan Salmond reports.

For people 25 years and under, becoming a parent can come as a huge upheaval to their way of life. A new baby does not come with an instruction manual, and without the right information and care young mums and dads can be left feeling overwhelmed.

Donna Hanson, program coordinator of Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Young Parents Support Program (YPSP) in Beenleigh, Logan, says teenage pregnancy is associated with poor health and socioeconomic outcomes.

“Teenage pregnancies have an increased risk of pre-term delivery, infant mortality and low birth weight. Teenage mothers often find it difficult to complete their education and have fewer financial resources than older parents which can result in their children having poor health. So basically they are at risk in several social and physical areas,” she says.

Originally started as a support group by a young parent living in Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Logan accommodation, with the help of Logan Hospital midwives the YPSP quickly grew into a complete antenatal program. The YPSP has been providing peer support and education delivered in a youth-friendly manner for 16 years.

“There are a myriad of challenges faced by local young families,” says Donna. “They are at higher risk of domestic violence, involvement of the Department of Child Safety, and they experience isolation and depression and other mental health issues.”

Improving relationships between young parents, their families, and other young parents is essential.

“Reducing isolation lets young parents gain self-esteem and self-worth. Developing rewarding and fulfilling relationships with their families, staff and other young parents and having places you can share is very important,” she says.

Over the years YPSP has found new ways for young parents to connect with each other and share information. Not only there is a series of postnatal classes for parents with babies and toddlers, YPSP launched a Young Parents Facebook page, serving 220 young parents.

“The page allows program staff to deliver topic-related information, instant support from staff and their peers and opportunities to make formal and informal support networks in the form of friendships with other group members and links to professionals,” says Donna.

From July 2014 to February 2015, YPSP serviced 76 young families and their children.

Mother’s Day is Sunday 10 May.More information about YPSP can be found at community.wmb.org.au/youth-families/logan-hub/young-parents-program

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