By Erica Root, MA
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Division
Storytelling has gained momentum as an education and health promotion tool. First-hand stories humanize public health efforts and demonstrate the impact of government programs in a way data cannot. And it also personalizes what it means to be in a “government program.”
That’s why it is so exciting to announce MCAH’s new youth-centered storytelling effort: Stories from the Adolescent Family Life Program (AFLP), which provides an inside look at the strengths-based, case-management program that builds on expectant and parenting youth’s resilience and skills to thrive. In the first installment, you will meet Maria, a young mom who stuck with her dreams and didn’t let having a baby stop her from graduating from high school and going to college.
Maria’s senior year of high school differed from those of her peers. She discovered she was pregnant and kept it a secret while continuing cheerleading and Zumba. “Because my pregnancy was hidden, I was in a bad place,” Maria recalls.
Finally, after months of hiding her pregnancy, she shared her situation with her school counselor who recommended she get in touch with TAPP – the Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Program in Butte County, the locally-funded Adolescent Family Life Program. This voluntary case management program provides expectant and parenting youth support and education focused on their strengths and needs. Maria’s interest in the program was immediate. She knew she needed someone to guide her through this life event of becoming a first-time mother.
Maria and her case manager, Natalia, instantly hit it off. Natalia’s warmth and willingness to listen made it easy for Maria to confide in her. Says Maria, “She came over to my house and I felt really comfortable with her… I trusted her.” Natalia noticed that Maria was a strong young woman, but that she needed some encouragement and tools to guide her through this major life event. Maria was doubting herself and her ability to continue school as a young mother. Fortunately, Natalia had a tool box of knowledge, information and activities to rebuild her confidence and help her achieve her goals.
Now, this is where YOU come in. Help us share Maria’s story. You can find the video story and written story here and a few sample social media posts below:
Want stories delivered to your inbox? The plan is to release future Stories from the Adolescent Family Life Program on a monthly basis. Email Erica.Root@cdph.ca.gov to get on the mailing list. Next time we will introduce you to April from Ventura County, a formerly shy young mother turned confident self-advocate.