Earlier this month, more than 120 women gathered in the ballroom at the Highlands at Dove Mountain for the annual Holiday Friendship Luncheon to support the Marana Unified School District’s Teenage Parent Program (TAPP).
Marianne Wyatt, who has coordinated the event for the past decade, has used the luncheon as a fundraiser and as a way to increase understanding and support for TAPP.
“I am so pleased with our success in raising money in support of this program,” Wyatt said. “It is very rewarding for our generation to be giving back to future generations and to know that girls are graduating with good parenting schools.”
Started in 1991 with a grant from the Flinn Foundation, the TAPP program is housed on the Marana High School campus but is open to all students in the district. It offers services and support to pregnant and parenting students with the ultimate goal of graduation. Students are referred to TAPP from school counselors and health care professionals or can contact the program directly. The program’s staff strives to retain students who become pregnant and reaches out to drop-outs to encourage them to return to school, as the school district estimates that approximately 75 to 80 percent of TAPP students were out of school at one point. The program also provides assistance to students who are behind in credits and accommodates the challenges that teenage parents face by creating flexible schedules and alternative education options.
The four major components of TAPP center on education, health care, child care and case management.
The education portion includes classes in prenatal care, parenting and child care skills and vocational training.
TAPP also has pregnancy prevention component with teen parents speaking to students and community groups about the challenges that they face and why kids should complete their education before becoming parents.
Sandy Schulte has a long history with the program. When she first learned about it, she she began supplying diapers to the program and later began teaching cooking classes, spending time with the parents and children, hosting graduation celebrations and assisting young moms with household furnishings.
“It is so inspirational to see these young parents who are committed to finishing school and learning how to be a nurturing parent and build a healthy relationship with their child,” Schulte said.
After learning about the program from Schulte, Wyatt began organizing the fundraising luncheon every year. This year’s luncheon included door prizes and speakers, including the TAPP’s coordinator and a former student. There was also a performance by Marana High School’s Chamber Choir.
The fundraiser will provide a number of items for the program, including layettes, clothing and blankets, and financial support.
To learn more about the program and how you can help, please visit www.maranausd.org/student or call 520-352-2400.