Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nurturing Niya: A Teen Mother's Story

Teen mothers and their children socialize at a Christmas party sponsored by Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo. The organization sponsors Success for Young Women, which provides a support group and teaches life skills like budgeting and parenting to teen mothers. “We’re the ones that want to do something with our lives, not just surviving,” Vashante Vinyard said.

Chrisma Edwards and Vashante Vinyard laugh at a photo of their daughters. Vinyard became pregnant at 17, but hasn’t let the hardships of teen motherhood lessen her ambition. Next semester she will begin classes at Moberly Area Community College becoming the first person in her family to attend college. She wants to be an interpreter in sign language and Spanish. “I want to build something I can stand on and offer my siblings and my child,” Vinyard said.

Vinyard works on a budget for household products while she tries to get her daughter, Janaija “Niya” Kimbrough, 16 months, to take a nap. Vinyard is on tight budget, and does hair on the weekends for gas money.

Vinyard kisses Janaija after eating hamburgers for lunch. Vinyard says she doesn’t really like cooking because as the oldest child in her family, she grew up cooking for a large family and cleaning up afterwards.

Vinyard works cleaning office buildings for two hours every weeknight evening. She used to work more hours per day, but was laid off, and later rehired for the two-hour shift.

Nurturing Niya, continued

Vinyard picks Janaija up after work from the child’s aunt, Jamela Kimbrough, and father, Jamal Kimbrough. Kimbrough pays child support and has told Vinyard that he wants to be a part-time father. Vinyard is looking into childcare options for January, when she starts school.

Vinyard and Janaija play after a bath. Vinyard has always played a large role in the caretaking of her 6 younger siblings. “I’ve always been a momma,” she said. “If it hadn’t been Niya, it would have been the same scenario.”

Vinyard teaches Janaija to brush her teeth.

Vinyard reads a potty training book to Janaija, who is already potty training at the age of 16 months. “She’s too smart for her own good,” Vinyard said.

Vinyard falls asleep trying to get Janaija to take a nap after running errands and enrolling at Moberly Area Community College. “I want to be happy and successful and self-sufficient,” Vinyard said.

Character Profile

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Video Job Profile from Valerie Mosley on Vimeo.