Supporting the Younglives

YoungLives logo.

Meghan Laakso

YoungLives logo.

Meghan Laakso, Reporter

Life can be complicated. It will throw giant curve balls when least expected. Life will take people away and then introduce new ones. It will surround situations with greatness or leave them stranded and unresolved. Luckily, life will not give what can not be handled. Here in Gig Harbor, Younglife (a youth group based on Christianity to help build relationships with God) has started a support system for teen moms and teens who are expecting called Younglives. It works to help the teens catch that curve ball and then turn it into positivity and love. Run by Joanna Parks, Younglives gives the moms support and opportunities that they may not get from their families and friends at home and at school.

The main idea of Younglives is to surround the moms with people, Mentor Moms, who have been where the teens are now and who will give them the mental, physical, and emotional support they need. The program will provide the teens with material items such as baby clothes, diapers, food, bottles, and more. They leaders will also reference the moms to doctors and give them rides to appointments.

Being the Younglives director, Joanna Parks is able to provide empathy to the girls through her own personal experience of an unexpected pregnancy at the age of twenty-five.

“It was a crazy time in my life where I felt really alone and isolated. I had no one to talk to who really understood how hard it was,” Parks said. “I want to give the girls the support I did not have. I want to give them direction, positive reinforcement, and hope that things will get better.”

I want to give the girls the support I did not have.

— Joanna Parks

In response to Younglives, the Gig Harbor community has been extremely positive and supportive towards the teen moms. Many people have donated money, baby accessories, and other items to help.

“What the community can do besides donating money, is sponsor a girl to go to camp,” Parks said. “We are taking the girls to Washington Family Ranch for a week in the summer to hang out with other girls who are moms. The cost will be about $800.”

Younglife area director, Brad Scandrett, provides oversight for the Younglives and is looking forward to starting a program for the ‘baby-daddies’ sometime in the future. Scandrett believes that Younglives will give back to the community by taking care of a priority that has been ignored for so long.

“Younglives reaches a need. One that we don’t know how great of a need it is,”Scandrett said. “It is new, it is a beginning, and it is very exciting.”

Younglives is held in two different parts: Campaigners and Club. Campaigners is a small group where the girls can confide in each other, knowing what they say and how they feel is held in close regard to privacy. Club, held at Chapel Hill, is a more eccentric atmosphere where the girls have dinner and hang out.

Though being a mom is exciting, we want to give the girls a chance to be teens.

— Joanna Parks

“There is childcare provided when the girls come to club,” said Parks. “Though being a mom is exciting, we want to give the girls a chance to be teens.”

The term teens for Younglives refers to anyone twenty-one and younger. But no one will be turned away when looking for the love and support Parks, Scandrett, and the Mentor Moms offer to the girls.

“It’s about walking alongside these girls and giving them resources they can use to excel in all they do,” Scandrett said. “It gives the girls a safe place to go, where they will not be kicked to the curb. That is what Younglives is about.”

Are you a teen mom or an expecting teen? Do you know any teen moms or moms-to-be? Encourage them to look into Younglives. For more information, you can contact the Young life office, email Joanna Parks, or look up Joanna on Facebook where you will find the link to the Gig Harbor Younglives page.

Younglife Office: (253) 851-8813

Joanna Parks: Cell (253)-314-6655