While the State of Maryland’s teen pregnancy rate has been on a continuous decline, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, it is still one of the highest teen pregnancy states, averaging 55 pregnancies per 1,000 teenage girls, as of 2011.
When one of Tamira Dunn’s friends got pregnant it galvanized her into action. “I had a personal friend of mine at that time who was 17, and she was pregnant for the second time. Her first child was two, and I was her godmother. I had the responsibility of caring for her because her mother was so young and pregnant again…I saw that there was a need in the community that wasn’t being addressed.”
In 2008, Tamira Dunn founded the Dream Girls Mentoring Program, dedicated to providing services and support to teenage mothers in Baltimore City. “There is a lot of services for young girls to prevent pregnancy, but once they get pregnant there is nothing to support or help them continue to transition from being a teenager into adulthood, and having services available .”
Through a grant from the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, combined with the helpful hand of the program’s vice president, Terry Cornish, the Dream Girls Mentoring Program is able to hold bi-weekly workshops that focus on topics from self-esteem to etiquette and job readiness. Along with a new location, the program has also expanded to include college tours, annual retreats, and one-on-one mentoring.
The program is geared toward teens and emerging adults ages 12-20. With a Bachelor’s of Science degree in psychology, and a Master’s of Science degree in human administration, Dunn recognized the importance of teens obtaining their high school diploma as a launching point for their future endeavors. “…The young ladies, the ones that do go through the program, graduate high school. There are so many barriers that prevent them from graduating high school, but that is just like the all-time success story there.”
As far as the future goes for the Dream Girls Mentoring Program, Dunn says she wants the business to run like any typical organization. “…I think that my mission overall is to help support people where they are, to help them prosper into something bigger, and to help them see the reality of their dreams, and be able to make their dreams become a reality.” The goal is to be accessible to the public whereas a young mother can walk in at any time seeking help, and knowing that they can come directly to the program for their needs.
Jasmine Jenkins, a 22-year-old mentee, said, “The Dream team has taken me to sign up for college, helped me get my first job, and they are still leading me in the right direction to not only have a job but a career. When I need someone to talk to or vent to in my time of need my mentor is who I go to. I’m very thankful to be a part of Dream Girls.”
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