Teenage parents-to-be in Lincolnshire take GCSE-level courses in pregnancy and child care
Teenage couples expecting babies are completing GCSE-level courses in pregnancy and child care.
Five couples and single mums-to-be have signed up for the new ten-week course at The Showroom, in Tritton Road.
The free training is being offered by Lincolnshire YMCA to expectant parents aged up to 20.
The students will learn what to expect from the pregnancy, how to keep themselves and also their babies healthy and how to look after their new arrivals.
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Next year, the YMCA will also offer young parents qualifications comparable to A levels that are designed to prepare them for education or employment.
Alex, 17, and her boyfriend Alan, 18, were some of the first to sign up for the Young Expectant Parents scheme.
Alex, who is 13 weeks pregnant, said she was grateful for the support offered by the YMCA.
"I was modelling for two or three years and I gave it all up to be a mum," she said.
"I loved it – I'd met Gok Wan four times and I was in Teen Queen UK.
"But I've wanted to have a baby since I was about 14 years old."
The first session was on Wednesday, November 7.
The students were given folders to complete as they progressed through the course.
On completion, they will receive National Open College Network (NOCN) qualifications at Level One or Level Two, which are comparable to GCSEs or NVQs at Level 1 or Level 2.
Next year's Moving On course, for young parents, will give NOCN qualifications at Level Two and Level Three – comparable to NVQ Level 3 and A or AS levels.
Alan, who is a baker, said his experience of being fostered when he was four years old had inspired him to be a good dad.
"I'm excited but scared because it's big responsibility," he said.
"I didn't have a dad in my life when I was a young lad but I've grown up a lot now and I feel I've got something to prove.
"I was living in a house where there were 11 of us in one room, where the beds were lined up like in the Army.
"I was fostered into a different family and I want to give the baby the best upbringing I can, so it can't regret anything like I did, even though it wasn't my fault."
The scheme is being supported by the county's Tackling Teenage Pregnancy service and Lincolnshire County Council.
Extra funding has been offered to The Showroom by the Michael Cornish Charitable Trust to buy toys for babies and toddlers.
The toys will be used as part of the YMCA's wider initiative to offer mentoring and a social environment for families when the children are born.
Sam, 16, is 38 weeks pregnant and said her pregnancy was not planned.
"I was quite shocked when I found out," she said.
"Me and my partner did not expect it.
"We broke up because he wanted to be with his other partner and he didn't want the baby.
"Sometimes I think 'maybe I can't do this' but then I realise that I have people around who will support me."
Sam, who had an abortion at 14, hopes to go to college and study criminology when she is older.
Course leader Rachael Denham said: "I am looking forward to being able to support the young people to adapt to the physical and emotional changes which pregnancy brings.
"It will be so valuable to be able to offer this course, which will prepare the students for everyday tasks that they will do for their baby once he or she is born."
For more information, call Ms Denham on 01522 508360.