Teen mums share their stories

By Adnan Aljilani

A GROUP of young mums have launched a book tackling the stereotypes of teenage mothers.

Be a Rhino Not a Sheep tells their own stories and offers an insight into the life of a young mum.

Written by the group, from the Hindley and Platt Bridge areas, the book was launched at a special event at the Community First School in Platt Bridge.

It urges other young people to make their own informed choices and not to follow the crowd.

Klair Thorpe, Michaela Farrell and Danielle Round are among those who contributed to the book with help from Wigan Council youth workers Lisa Middlehurst, Karen Freeman and Steph Gentle.

Klair became pregnant, when she was 16, by her partner Adrian Farrow.

The couple are now engaged and share responsibilities caring for their 13-month-old boy, Adrian Farrow Junior.

Klair, who is now 17, said: “When I found out that I was pregnant I was shocked and devastated.

“But I knew that we had to face up to the consequences of what had happened. I’ve had to become a much more responsible person, which my parents and the group have helped me become.

“As a group we wanted to get our stories out there. People sometimes look at us like we are dirt but if they read this perhaps they will know our stories.”

Michaela’s son Tyrone is 16 months old.

The 17-year-old from Duke Street in Platt Bridge said: “My boyfriend and I were in a relationship and moved in together.

“We were having unprotected sex all the time and then I got pregnant.

“By coming to the group I’ve been able to talk to people who were in the same situation I was in.”

Danielle found out she was pregnant four weeks after she had a one-night stand at a party.

The 18-year-old, from Sydney Street in Platt Bridge, said: “I was so confused and scared about what my brother would say to me. But since Terrance was born all of my family have been great.

“With the book we want to open teenagers’ eyes about having unprotected sex.”

The young mums group wrote the book with the help of Julie McKiernan, a freelance writer and tutor from Leigh Sixth Form College.

Julie also wrote a play which was performed by her drama students at the launch to other groups from across the borough.

Both the book and play challenge stereotypes, for example that young women just become pregnant to get houses and benefits.

It also urges young men and women to think for themselves instead of following the crowd.

Julie said: “When I first came to meet them I was dubious about writing this.

“That feeling soon disappeared when I met them and I could not believe how determined and articulate they were.

“There was a feeling that what had happened to them really mattered and they had something to tell people.”

Wigan Council youth worker Lisa Middlehurst said: “It’s taken nine months for this whole project to come to fruition . . . quite ironic really!

“The group have proved that life doesn’t stop when you become pregnant and have a baby at an early age.

“The experience they have gone through has given them the opportunity and desire to peer educate other young women about sexual health and relationships so they don’t have to experience the same thing.”

NHS Stop Smoking services and five-a-day health trainers were also present at the launch, along with Connexions and Brook to give advice to young people.

Funding for the project came from Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust Youth Arts Awards, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Group, NewSTART arts funding and Wigan Council’s Youth Service.