SE Missouri program growing that helps teen moms

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - No matter where you live, teen pregnancy is a fact of life. You can try and hide the issue, but it's not going away.

One group is determined to help these girls in their time of fear and uncertainty.

You may have heard of a group called MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schooler's). There is a similar group in Jackson, but it is specifically for moms under 22.

They have had some as young as 14. It's a group increasing in numbers as the need continues to grow.

"I was so nervous", said Brittany Smith. "I didn't know what to say to my parents."

Brittany Smith is 19 and pregnant.

"At first, I was like what am I going to do," said Smith.

"Me and my boyfriend found out together," said  Kenzie Dunning. "We took the test together. We laughed and cried, and we didn't know what to do."

Kenzie Dunning is 18-years-old. She is a senior in high school with a three-month-old baby.

"I have a little boy named James," said Dunning. She loves him very much, but says being a teen mom is far from easy.

"I still work a part-time job, but with all the bills we still need help," said Dunning. "Otherwise you're never going to get through school and college."

That's where the Teen MOPS group comes in.

"There's not nearly enough information out there, and not nearly enough support for a place for moms who happen to also be teens to see other moms like themselves," said Jennifer Vandeven.

Vandeven leads Teen MOPS at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Jackson.

Right now in the group there are 10 young ladies, some who already have babies and some who are expecting. Most of them are from the Jackson area.

"It's a great energy, you can talk freely about whatever and not feel like they're going to judge me for what I do," said Kenzie Dunning.

"That's something we strive to be is a non-judgmental, safe, supportive, loving, Christian environment," said Vandeven.

"You can talk and say whatever you want," said Brittany Smith. "I'm not nervous at all here."

They learn how to take care of their babies and themselves.

"Things like reading to your child, knowing when to take them to the doctor, also life skills things like how to do a good interview," said Vandeven.

They also get help with basic needs.

"I'm starting to stock up on diapers and it's really helpful," said Brittany Smith.

The girls can earn points by going to church, doctor's appointments, and getting good grades. They can then use those points to get some much needed items like diapers, wipes, and personal care products.

Their leader says the needs go far beyond this group.

"It's a lot more widespread than what the area believes it to be," said Vandeven.

They are still kids themselves, trying to make it work.

"Just take it one day at a time it's all you can do," said Kenzie Dunning.

The group is open to taking in teen moms from anywhere in southeast Missouri.

There is a link to the Teen MOPS program on the Crossroads Fellowship website. Just head to

The group is also in need of donations in the form of money or baby items. Contact the church at (573) 204-1733  for details on how to get those directly to the group.

There will also be a fundraiser at the Gordonville Grill on November 29, 2011. 10%  of all proceeds will go to the Teen MOPS program.

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