From the Factivist, Spring 2012
By Brittany Christiani, Grant MacEwan Social Work Practicum Student
The Terra Centre is a not-for-profit organization in Edmonton that assists teenagers who are pregnant or parenting. The organization was established in 1971, with the mission of empowering teen parents to succeed and the vision that pregnant and parenting teens will be successful individuals raising healthy, resilient children. Terra supports and encourages teen moms and dads to recognize their potential as nurturing parents and successful members of the community, (Terra Association, 2012). The organization serves young women up to age nineteen and men up to twenty four years old who are raising children or are pregnant.
The Terra Centre values a good work-life balance by encouraging its teenage clients to achieve their educational goals, while still being able to successfully raise their young family. They have partnered with Braemar School in Edmonton to educate pregnant and parenting teens exclusively, while also providing on-site childcare in order to give them time to attend classes and study. The childcare centre offers individual and group parenting information and support, along with assistance in accessing funding to help the teens with their child care fees.
Another helpful service Terra provides is supportive housing for their clients through their projects Hope Terrace, Braemar House, and Housing Works. Hope Terrace offers thirteen suites for up to three years to those who face the different adversities that comes along with living independently at a young age. What makes this project unique is that a full time Family Housing Worker is on site at Hope Terrace to provide tenants with one on one support, focused goal planning, group programming and access to community resources (Terra Association, 2012). This provides their teenage clients with the support they need to grow as independent individuals and be successful as parents and as part of their community. Housing Works also partners with Capital Region Housing and its teen-parent tenants to support them in setting goals, overcoming barriers to employment and education and planning for the future (Terra Association, 2012).
The Terra Centre offers a variety of group supports and classes that provide young parents with information and opportunities to learn skills that are required to raise a child. They include prenatal classes supported by a public health nurse, and support groups that teach them how to take on parental responsibilities and maintain their own social network. As well, Terra offers individual support with relationship issues, advocacy and social support, free baby and infant clothing through the local clothing donation program Klothes Kloset, parenting education, in-home parenting support, assistance in securing child care and financial support, and referrals to other community agencies or health centres if needed. One program in particular, called the Nobodys Perfect Parenting Program, focuses on working with teens to develop healthy parenting skills in the areas of body, behavior, mind and safety and positive discipline. This program is not specific to Terra clients only; it is open to the community on a voluntary basis. Nobodys Perfect runs a span of eight weeks which consists of two hour sessions with a meal provided; clients will receive a certificate from the program after attending six sessions.
According to Lindsay Sylvester, Terra Centres communications coordinator, it is important for Edmontonians to know that in addition to serving pregnant and parenting mothers, the agency also serves parenting fathers as well as men that are about to become parents (Sylvester, 2012). The services for young fathers include personal support, individual or group supports on developing parental skills, monthly group activities, advocating issues, community resource referrals and a drop-in resource centre. These services offered to new and soon-to-be teenage fathers could help teach them how to play an active role in parenting their child.
Although they have a sister organization at the Louise Dean School in Calgary, Terra Centre is the only organization dedicated solely to the success of teen parenting in Edmonton. This, as Lindsay mentions, has advantages and disadvantages in that they can differentiate themselves from other organizations for funding, but there is a large demand for their services in which the centre can only accommodate so many at a time. (Sylvester, 2012). However, Lindsay stressed that the teens on wait lists are not forgotten, giving them access to emergency items such as diapers and bus tickets to help teen parents as much as they can.
Terra is currently in year two of a program titled the Teen Parent Service Network. This program allows for joint work between the different agencies around Edmonton and Terra Centre in order to better serve teen parents. The center is also planning on strengthening their Peers Educating Peers program, which creates opportunities for clients of the Terra Center to educate teens about the adversities of becoming parents at a young age, such as giving presentations in high schools around Edmonton. The program has been successful thus far, and Terra Center hopes to make the program even more client-driven in order to empower their teens.
Terra Centre is a strong organization that is making great strides in Edmonton, helping teens reach their goals and develop healthy parenting techniques. They are located at 9930 106 Street Northwest, Edmonton, AB and can be reached at (780) 428 -3772. For more information on the services Terra Centre provides, or to find out how to volunteer with Terra, you can visit their website at http://terracentre.ca.
Sylvester, L. (2012, April 4). Communications Coordinator at Terra Centre . (B. Christiani, Interviewer)
Terra Association. (2012, March 26). Terra Centre . Retrieved April 13, 2012, from Terra Centre : http://terracentre.ca/