KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Many high school students are getting ready to walk the stage to start their futures, but for some teens it’s only the second most important moment in their lives.
- Central Florida nonprofit helps young mothers
- Teen Moms Choose Life provides free classes, child care
Paola Marrero, 19, said this school year was one the toughest moments of her life. She transferred from her traditional school to an accelerated learning school, Zenith Accelerated Learning Academy.
"One of the teachers told me I was not going to graduate [because I was behind on my course credits]," Marrero said. "I was going to have to finish in November next year."
Then, Marrero got even more surprising news.
"I was six weeks pregnant when I found out I was pregnant," Marrero said. "I started crying. My mom started crying."
Marrero heard about a nonprofit that helps young girls in her situation, Teen Moms Choose Life.
"The minute she walked in, I threw a paper at her and told her what we were all about," said Debbie Newell, founder of the nonprofit.
Teen Moms Choose Life provides teen moms with free prenatal and parenting classes, support groups and free child care.
Amy DeBerry, a volunteer and mentor, credits the nonprofit for her success.
"[It helped having Debbie] being able to mentor me and tell me all the parenting skills that I needed to have as a teen mom that I wouldn’t have known without them," DeBerry said.
Marrero said her baby girl, 3-month-old Tayra Alondra, inspired her to graduate and the nonprofit gave her the support she needed to succeed.
Marrero said she now plans on attending Valencia College to become a nurse.