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2010 Annual Report: Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation
Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation
Early Childhood Education
Alexina was a star 16-year-old high school student in Espanola, New Mexico – a cheerleader, class secretary, and dedicated to her education. When she learned she was pregnant, she was asked to quit cheerleading and step down as secretary. While other girls her age would have quit school altogether, Alexina wanted to continue her education, while at the same time preparing to be a new mom.
Alexina was referred to the First Born Program, a successful early childhood education/parent education initiative of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation in Northern New Mexico. First Born provides new parents with education, training, and support to help guide them through the first three years of their child’s development. The program’s weekly services are free to all first time families regardless of economic, cultural, or medical status. In 2010, the Daniels Fund supported the program with a $25,000 grant.
According to Susan Herrera, Executive Director, “Studies of child development programs have shown that children’s success in preschool and beyond is built on the foundation of relationships, experiences, and skills they develop in their first three years of life. The LANL Foundation believes that investing in youth from birth through kindergarten can change lives of individual children today and for years to come.”
The First Born program works with many teen mothers like Alexina. Of the 88 families served in 2009, 28% were pregnant or parenting teens.
Alexina started with the program as soon as she learned she was pregnant. “I was young. I needed the help. First Born taught me how to be a mom,” said Alexina.
Core to the program are trained home visitors who teach new families about healthy pregnancies and childhood. A Home visitor comes every week and provides education and health prevention support. “Often young mothers don’t know what to do and have so much stress. A home visitor really helps, said Mary Hendrix, Program Officer.
In addition to education and connections to the medical community, Alexina’s home visitor helped her keep up with school so she could stay in. She also served as someone to talk to. “Someone to come and listen to you for an hour a week is incredibly powerful, especially for a young mother,” said Hendrix.
“First Born taught me what not to eat, what was healthy for me and my baby. They also taught me how to breast feed,” she said. “I was able to go to school every single day until the day my daughter was born,” said Alexina. “After she was born, I stayed home for 4 weeks. I did my homework at home and sent everything in. My First Born home visitor helped me with everything.”
Alexina graduated high school in 2010 and is now in college studying radiology with dreams of becoming a pediatrician. Her daughter is now 3. She has several friends who have become pregnant and quit school. “I’ve told them there’s no reason to quit,” said Alexina.
“If it wasn’t for the First Born program I wouldn’t be where I am today. I probably wouldn’t be in college right now. I probably never would have finished high school.”