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Teen pregnancy in Kent County 'can really happen to anybody'

DA Blodgett St. John’s

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 9,000 teen pregnancies are reported statewide.

While the numbers have been decreasing in recent years, the rates for teen pregnancy in Kent County remain higher than the state of Michigan.

But Sabrina Minarik, Mentoring Specialist for D.A. Blodgett St. John’s Young Moms Program, says prevention really lies on providing a comprehensive sex education.

“It can really happen to anybody, and I think a lot of our young moms, they don’t necessarily understand that. A lot of people put blame on the young moms at times when it isn’t necessarily warranted because maybe they didn’t have the education or access to birth control or contraception that other people may have had.”

As a teen mother herself, Minarik credits her success today to her family.

“Growing up, I had a great support system with my parents and I think that had I not had that, my life could have gone a different way.”

But Minarik says, more often than not, teen moms don’t have that same sense of community, and for many, the mentoring relationship built through the program can be their only source of support.

“Either their families don’t agree with them keeping the baby or their family members live out of the area so they’re just really looking for some of that support.”

The Young Moms Program currently only serves Kent County residents, but accepts mentors from all over West Michigan.