Letters to the Editor

Teen parents need support from Manatee community

May is a very important month for our community, as it is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Why should citizens of Manatee County care?

The future prospects for teen parents are bleak. For starters, they and their babies face severe health risks; many do not seek prenatal care. In addition, 38 percent of teen parents do not graduate from high school. These young parents don't have the ability to build a better future because they are too busy struggling to survive.

I know firsthand that teen pregnancy causes many hardships, as I became a teen mom in 2011. This resulted in me being homeless, living in a maternity home, and almost dropping out of high school. Fortunately, I was able to graduate from high school, obtain my associate's degree, and now I am pursuing my bachelor's degree.

Even with hard work, I am fighting many obstacles typical of teen parenthood, including remaining impoverished and still struggling so hard to succeed for my kids and the betterment of the community. Because of this, I have dedicated my life to preventing teen pregnancy - and I am not alone.

In 2011, not only was my child born, but so was Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee, an initiative to tackle the critical public health problem of teen pregnancy. I have been honored to serve as their teen parent intern. Since the coalition was formed, and our community began working together on this issue, teen birth rates have dropped 38 percent.

With community support, I believe the coalition and its partners can continue to make dramatic strides in reducing teen birth rates. Please invest in Manatee County's youth by supporting education and services to reduce teen pregnancy and improve the chances of a positive future for our teens.

To learn more, please visit www.healthyteensmanatee.com.

Paige Sagar