By Ryan Dedmon
Anaheim Police Dispatch personnel volunteered last weekend to work a community event to support single teen mothers.
9-1-1 For Kids and Kathy Ireland Worldwide proudly presented the 20th Annual “IGNITE”: A Mentorship Program for Single Teen Mothers. The program has been recognized as one of the nation’s leading mentor programs for single teen mothers, and it received the Governor ‘s Crystal Star Award in 1996.
Kathy Ireland (former supermodel and current CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide) developed the program in 1990 with 9-1-1 For Kids founder Elise Kim. The program works with local social service organizations in identifying disadvantaged single teen mothers. Those teen mothers are then invited to take part in this program to address the complex issues of pregnancy.
According to 9-1-1 For Kids, “IGNITE matches professional businesswomen as mentors and role models to over 100 single teen mothers. Single teen mothers who participate successfully transition into responsible adults, gain new hope and aspirations, and learn responsible parenting.”
Police Service Representative (PSR) Ofelia Perez and I had the honor of meeting Ireland and working this event with the 9-1-1 For Kids Organization.
PSR Perez was matched to be a mentor for 2 teen mothers (Azusena Morales, 16, and Marina Vasquez, 14). PSR Perez went through ice-breaking activities and listened to motivational speakers, including Ireland. Then they began a series of workshops designed to give the expecting teen mothers information on preparing for the complex job of motherhood. The workshops included: Women’s Healthcare, Pre/Post Natal Care, First Aid and CPR, Financial & Life Planning, Domestic Violence & Child Abuse Prevention, and Child Safety & 9-1-1 Call Training.
I had the privilege of teaching the 9-1-1 Call Training workshop in the event the teens may have to call 9-1-1 for an emergency regarding the welfare of their new child. The California Highway Patrol donated over 100 child safety car seats, which were given to the teen mothers, and two CHP officers demonstrated proper installation. Doctors from USC’s Keck School of Medicine stressed the importance of healthcare, while EMT’s from Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital conducted CPR training.
“Teen mothers hurt in so many different ways, and they are in great need of direction and encouragement”, said PSR Perez.
Perez’s teen mentees are due to give birth in October and December. She summed up her experience by saying, “We need to find time in our busy lives to reach out to those who may just need a friend.”
We wish Azusena and Marina the very best and we will continue to walk with them and support them on their journey to motherhood.
A special thanks to the 9-1-1 For Kids Organization for allowing us to take part in this wonderful event, truly an amazing experience for both mentors and mentees.