Teen parents often face a lifetime of extraordinary challenges. In Saint John, NB, the last five Vital Signs reports have pegged the rate of teen pregnancies at almost double the provincial average.
In 2009-10, 132 of the 1,706 babies (7.7 per cent) born in the city were born to teens – and one third of those were birthed by mothers under the age of 18. Failing to complete high school, living in poverty, and single parenting are all potential results.
“Teen pregnancy has a profound impact on the lives of teen parents and their families,” says public health nurse Penny Higdon, who heads up the Greater Saint John Teen Pregnancy Committee, an awareness and advocacy group.
“It’s difficult to measure the cause and effect, but it makes all kinds of sense to have people from various areas of interest coming together and working on this issue,” says Greater Saint John Community Foundation Executive Director Jane Barry.
“And it’s an issue that requires a multi-pronged approach.”
Now, thanks in part to a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation, the committee will be embarking on an extensive, multi-faceted social marketing campaign, with help from corporate partners Revolution Strategy and Hemmings House Pictures.
Higdon says it will be influenced by local youth and target those at greatest risk.