Real Life

One highschool, 45 teen mums!

A high school on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is giving teenage mums a fighting chance to turn their lives around. Warren Gibbs reports.
It’s a classroom like no other - students with books under one arm, bottles, booties and babies under the other.
Meet the young mums from Burnside State High School - all 45 of them! Among them is Amanda Tidy-Russ, 17, bounding out of class at the bell to give her son, 22-month-old Bailey, a hug and kiss.
While Amanda has been busy studying maths, Bailey has spent the morning in an adjacent crèche playing with building blocks.
Standing in the corridor is Tegan Dunstan, 19, surrounded by a smiling group of well-wishers. She may be a little old for show-and-tell, but this is Tegan’s first day back at school following the birth of now four-month-old Xavier, and she is proudly showing him off to her classmates.
In a school of 450 students, this group of mothers – some as young as 14 – is reaping the rewards of the STEMM (Supporting Teenagers with Education, Mothering and Mentoring) program, which provides free childcare so the girls can get on with their studies while their babies are well looked after, and never far away.
See the full story in this week's Woman's Day, on sale June 21, 2010.

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