0

Young mothers find help raising 'Better Babies'

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

As 10 young women peered into their compact mirrors Thursday, Elizabeth Yancey urged them to, "Say I am strong, learning with knowledge, I am beautiful gaining more wisdom."

Yancey uttered the dictum on self-esteem during a Better Babies Ministries, Inc., workshop for young mothers readying to face the world. "Whatever I need to change to better myself I will, because I am me, me, me," Yancey said.

Better Babies Ministries, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and assisting single young mothers. It serves women up to age 25 who are either pregnant, or have just welcomed children into the world, said Yancey. Better Babies Ministries' program consists of 12 sessions, every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 a.m., to 12 p.m., at the Clayton County Headquarters Library.

The organization was formed about four months ago, Yancey said, and is readying to celebrate its first class of graduates.

"I've learned a lot of things about being independent, about my self-esteem, and about taking every obstacle that I run into, and turning it into a positive outcome," said 22-year-old LeAndra Castillo, a student majoring in health care management at Clayton State University, who is participating in the program.

"It has allowed me to learn how to manage time," she said. "When I finish work, I have no time to fool around, and I spend time with my daughter, take care of the house and study. It has taught me to prioritize."

Different organizations sponsor the girls involved. Right from the Start Medicaid Program has assisted Better Babies Ministries in referring young mothers to the non-profit organization, said Yancey. The Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services will also begin to inform young mothers of the program, she said.

Yancey said her organization partnered with the Family Nurturing Center of Georgia, Inc., which has given financial help, and has provided teaching materials.

"During the sessions, we find out what the mothers, and babies, really need," said Yancey.

To fund its July 9 graduation celebration, at the Clayton County Headquarters Library, 865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro, Better Babies Ministries will hold a fund-raiser Saturday, at its headquarters, at 2054 Rex Road, Morrow.

The fund-raiser, from 11 a.m., to 5 p.m., will include a car wash and yard sale. Patrons will be asked to pay $5 for their cars, and $10 for their SUVs and pickup trucks to be washed. Food, such as hot dogs, hamburgers and fish, will also be on sale for $5.

"This is our very first celebration ceremony ... celebrating completion of the hard work, and change in their lives," Yancey said. The money collected during the fund-raiser will help the organization obtain certificates and personal gifts for the mothers and babies, Yancey said.

Yancey said she, along with her husband, created Better Babies Ministries, because of the personal experiences she went through as a 15-year-old mother.

"Just having a child at that age, I never got any prenatal care, because I was scared," she said. "And I didn't receive any prenatal care until I was seven months pregnant."