THE VM Foundation recently collaborated with the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) in support of a series of personal development and financial literacy sessions for adolescent mothers. This was part of activities to celebrate and empower the 2022 cohort of the WCJF's Finishing School Programme for Adolescent Mothers.
The programme, established in 1978, is designed to provide continuing education to girls who become pregnant while attending school and who are forced to withdraw from the regular system of academic instruction.
CEO of the VM Foundation Samantha Charles was quick to note that the decision to come on board was an easy one for her team.
"We understand the burden and stigma attached to young girls who begin the motherhood journey far earlier than expected. They often bear the brunt of society's chastisement and at times face serious rejection," she stated. "As a woman and mother myself, I am proud of the foundation's partnership with the WCJF and I believe it will only amplify our message that, despite your circumstances, you are worthy, you are valued, and you can transform your life."
Programme lead at the VM Foundation Sophia Lewis, in providing details of the financial literacy activities the girls engaged in, made it clear that VM is on a quest to have as many Jamaicans exposed to proper money management tools and wealth-generation skills.
"They were engaged in discussions about goal-setting and savings and were able to get a better understanding of what stage of the financial life cycle they were at. They were also exposed to the different methods of budgeting, investing and retirement planning." She continued, "They also got a taste of what the car and home ownership journey entails and, based on the questions they had for our team, it was clear that these young ladies have bold ambitions and are thinking about their future and the quality of life they want to live."
The WCJF since its inception has helped over 50,000 adolescent mothers reclaim their voice. Through the programme young ladies have benefited from a series of workshops which focus on personal image and branding, public speaking techniques, voice and speech training, social graces and etiquette, and networking skills.
WCJF's Executive Director Dr Zoe Simpson explained why those areas of focus emerged as primary components of the programme.
"The things that suffer the most when young girls become pregnant are their self-esteem and confidence," she noted. "The backlash they receive often makes them feel like they don't matter. We are rewriting that script that they so often believe or rather, we are reminding them that they are enough and that they can lead beautiful lives."
The WCJF's Finishing School Programme for Adolescent Mothers is delivered from seven main centres and 11 outreach stations islandwide, and is facilitated through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.