When a person thinks of education, subjects like reading, writing, math, and science are the first to come to mind. However, life skills like learning how to have healthy relationships and set boundaries are often not part of the curriculum.
North Star Youth Partnership
That’s why North Star Youth Partnership (NSYP), a program of Catholic Charities, nurtures youth to be healthy and self-assured by providing educational, recreational, leadership, and service-learning opportunities. North Star’s Baby...Ready or Not gives students the opportunity to take home simulated newborn babies and get a taste of what it’s like to care for them.
North Star Health Educator Lori Regnier and Kasey Shaver recently brought the gift of Baby...Ready or Not to youth in Catholic Charities’ Unaccompanied Minor Program (UMP). This program provides foster homes to foreign-born children who are in the United States without legal guardians to care for them.
Empowering Teens Through Information
Before giving them their newborns, Lori taught the UMP students about relationships and the benefits of bringing a child into the world while in a committed marriage. The teens also learned about the consequences of premarital sex, including STDs, teen pregnancy, and the long-term emotional effects their decisions can have on them and their future children.
These amazing teens opened up in a way that left Lori deeply impressed. They were actively engaged in the class and shared their real-life hardships. They spoke about unhealthy relationships they had had in the past and even shared their experiences helping to care for siblings and younger children.
Students Learn the Realities of Parenting
When the students received their simulated newborns, they were in for a surprise! Their babies woke up and began crying during a field trip to the library. It wasn’t easy for the students, but it helped them realize that babies crying in public is part of the reality of parenting.
Over the course of a few days, the teens saw firsthand how difficult it is to socialize and finish schoolwork while caring for a baby, on top of a lack of sleep. They began to appreciate the little things, like going to the gym or having free time.
“North Star’s Baby….Ready or Not program was a memorable experience for both our clients and staff,” said Rachel Jensen, Senior Program Supervisor at Catholic Charities. “Our clients learned first-hand just how much work is required to care for an infant. The simulated babies helped our clients learn this in a fun and engaging way. We appreciate Lori and the North Star team for this wonderful program!”
Giving Teens the Tools They Need
Lori hopes that this life-changing experience will encourage the teens to stop and think about how to reach their full potential. The tools she has given them will help them find positive relationships that lead to a healthy marriage and a safe environment for raising a family.
Lori Regnier has been a North Star Educator for five years. She is also the VP of Starbright Foundation, where she works with sex trafficking victims and educates the community about child safety. Lori has over 30 years of experience working with teens and is married with three children.