Young parents juggle online schooling, child care and isolation during COVID-19

Katelyn Dawe with her husband Sebastian Paul and their 11-month-old daughter Stella on June 2, 2020. Morgan Black/Global News

Young parents in Edmonton are facing mounting challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many try to finish high school online.

“I’m in four core classes this year, so it’s definitely a lot,” said Grade 12 student Katelyn Dawe. “It’s definitely a lot on top of child care. But, I’m handling it.”

Dawe said her 11-month-old daughter, Stella, is keeping her busy in between those online classes.

“She’s amazing. She makes me incredibly happy. She is laughing all the time at everything,” said Dawe.

“But, it is a lot all at once. There are days where I feel incredibly overwhelmed.”

Her situation echoes the reality of other young parents. The Terra Centre is currently working with numerous moms and dads who need additional support.

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READ MORE: Pregnant teens face higher rates of depression, poverty and substance use: study

The organization offers programs that support to young moms and dads — from housing, schooling to learning about being a parent.

“About 95 per cent of our parents live in poverty,” said executive director Karen Mottershead. “They’ve lost funding. They’ve lost jobs. They are also trying to deal with COVID-19, isolation and doing well in school.”

At the same time, the non-profit is experiencing a funding gap of $10,000 for mental health services.

“We’re a little bit short. We are still welcoming and thanking those that can contribute.

“The $10,000 would put us in a really good place moving forward,” said Mottershead.

The Global Edmonton wardrobe sale raised $13,000 in 2019. This year, because of public health restrictions on mass gatherings, that money won’t be there.

READ MORE: Global Edmonton wardrobe sale raises $13K to help pregnant teens

“Our staff tell me it is a very emotionally challenging time for the parents,” said Mottershead. “That community support is so meaningful to them. That’s such an important message. It goes a long way to making people feel that they can get through this and people care about them.”

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WATCH: The Terra Centre is a local organization devoted to helping pregnant and parenting teens. This year, the proceeds from the Global Edmonton wardrobe sale will go to the Terra Centre. Carole Anne Devaney and Laurel Gregory take us on a tour.

Click to play video: 'Take a tour inside Edmonton’s Terra Centre' Take a tour inside Edmonton’s Terra Centre
Take a tour inside Edmonton’s Terra Centre – Apr 13, 2018

Dawe said that ongoing support is helping her thrive.

“Well, I’m kind of smart,” she laughed. “I have a 93 per cent average in English and a 95 per cent in Biology.”

“There are a lot of young parents that are doing really well. Working hard, finishing school, trying to do all the right things,” said Mottershead. “But, like everybody right now, we all need a little extra help along the way.”

You can donate to Terra Centre here.


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