Once realizing one is pregnant, it can either be a celebration of joy and anticipation… or in other cases, it can be an unexpected life change, tiresome when looking at what’s ahead, or not welcome. It’s not as if teen pregnancy is always one way or the other, but it is always a lot to navigate the aspect of graduating from school along with the tasks of parenthood.
Our Parent Life director, Cherelle Cowan, can relate to that. She became pregnant when she was in high school, and she felt very “set apart” at school. Even though she was blessed with childcare at that school, her classrooms were thrust into trailers behind the main buildings. That made it obvious to others she was “different.”
She attests that usually once a student realizes they are pregnant, there will be a meeting where they are asked about the change that baby will have on their life and what their future is going to look like. It ends up that if it’ll make too much of an impact on their life, they’ll be asked to find another place or form of education.
And that’s what New Legacy Charter School is there for. It’s an alternative charter school for kids who have been thrust out of schools and provides continued education instead—whether they are a young parent, a foster child, and/or recently kicked out of school, relocated, or liberated from a detention center. The school provides what the student needs no matter where they are in life.
In fact, recently there was an exciting event at New Legacy: graduation! It was a celebration for youth aged around 17 to 21, who have made it through, even with difficulties, and now are onto wherever life takes them. It was impactful that among the 37 graduates, 50% of them were parents, and they received the diploma while holding their babies.
A recent graduate said she was most pleased with the amount of support she received. “If you are struggling and need help to finish school, they will give you all the resources you need.” The father of her son, who attended and graduated with her, had to deal with completing schoolwork, as well as having a job to meet their needs. The school understood that and directed him how to graduate while maintaining both aspects.
Besides just Parent Life engaging at New Legacy, our other ministries have played a part in the students there. In fact, a young mom at first avoided any interaction with Parent Life whatsoever and was also absent from time to time. After coming back from being gone for two months, she heard that Parent Life was affiliated with DAYFC and immediately asked if they knew Tim. She had been living at Mount View Youth Services Center because she is a foster child, and knew our Juvenile Justice Ministry Chaplain, Tim Butler, who met with her consistently, so they had built a good relationship. Once she realized the connection, she became very open and engaged in Parent Life.
DAYFC has even more connections with New Legacy. One girl had been involved in Campus Life and knew Donny McCleery, the Director of Campus Life Ministries, so she wanted to join Parent Life right away once she was enrolled there due to pregnancy.
We are amazed how God works in many ways, and how He can use the New Legacy Charter School to help with that. Instead of letting kids feel like outcasts or unwanted from their past, New Legacy provides the possibility for youth to become more than that. The fact that they are constantly asking “How can we help move them forward? How can we support them?” makes them non-traditional, yet very impactful in youth all around Denver. And that’s what we hope and pray we do as well—walk alongside youth, build them up and help them see God in all aspects of life.
By: Christie Smith | Communication and Media Specialist