Kornerstone program expands to northern BC

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kornerstone's Teen Mom Program has received a $17,570 grant from the March of Dimes. The funds will allow the Shell Knob-based organization to expand its Teen Mom Program, which serves pregnant teens and teenage mothers, to northern Barry County.

"We are very pleased and excited to be awarded monies from March of Dimes to enable Kornerstone Teen Mom Program to expand advocacy services to reach all of Barry County," said Marlene Whitham, Kornerstone director. "We are truly grateful for this opportunity to have a positive impact on young mothers and their babies."

Kornerstone Teen Mom Program of Barry County will provide teen mothers throughout the county with the opportunity to receive early prenatal healthcare, attend childbirth classes and learn positive parenting and infant care skills through personal and group visits.

"We found that the pregnant teen population of the Monett area needed advocacy services here in Barry County," said Mark Schwartz, March of Dimes state director of program services. "We are grateful that our successful fundraising efforts, such as March for Babies, make it possible for us to support new programs in the Monett community that can help more babies be born healthy."

Kornerstone's Teen Mom program was founded in Shell Knob five years ago. The program has helped dozens of local teens receive prenatal care and parenting training.

In 2009, in an effort to decrease transportation costs and serve more teens, the Teen Mom Program began meeting with young women at the Barry County Health Department in Cassville.

This year, those services will be expanded to the health department office in Monett. The organization will also partner with the Monett R-1 School District and Monett area churches to offer services to teens in northern Barry County.

"We are very excited," said Lisa Miller, Teen Mom Program director. "We think there is a large need in northern Barry County, and we look forward to expanding to serve more young moms and make a difference in their lives."

The Teen Mom program encourages students to continue their education. Some choose to pursue a GED and others take part in college courses after graduating high school.

Kornerstone has also offered the Stork Store at its facility in Shell Knob since the Teen Mom Program was founded. This year, a second Stork Store will be opened at New Life Free Will Baptist Church in Monett.

Through the Teen Mom Program, teens earn points by attending school, GED classes, doctor visits, group meetings and other activities. The points can be used to purchase baby items and supplies from the Stork Store.

"We hate that we have to have this type of program, but the need is there," said Gerri Wormington, of the New Life Free Will Baptist Church. "Someone needs to step up and help these teens. We had the space available, and we wanted to reach out to teen moms in our area and do what we could to help."

In addition to offering prenatal education throughout each teen's pregnancy and transportation to medical appointments, the Teen Moms Program offers education after each teen delivers their baby.

"A big part of the program is helping these young moms make the transition to parenthood, so that they and their babies can get a good start," said Miller. "That transition can be tough at first. Even learning to navigate the medical system and the importance of doctors' visits can be a challenge.

"We look forward to helping more young moms through that transition, and also just getting to know the Monett and Pierce City communities," said Miller.

The program partners with Parents As Teachers to provide parenting support for teens during the first few years of each child's life.

"Kornerstone's Teen Mom Program has become known for providing a 'new model of care' for pregnant teens," said Whitham. "There are no other programs in this area that provide quite the same service and empower teens to deliver healthy babies."

The goal of Kornerstone Teen Mom Program of Barry County is to increase the chances of full-term and normal birth weight deliveries for pregnant teens in Barry County.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.

Kornerstone plans to hire a part-time advocate to serve teen moms in the Monett area. Northern Barry County teens enrolled in the program will receive the same services and opportunities offered to teens since the program's inception in Shell Knob. Kornerstone accepts referrals to the Teen Mom Program at any time.

For more information, to make a referral or to support the Kornerstone Teen Mom Program of Barry County, call 417-858-2887 or visit kornerstoneinc.org.

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