Hello, my name is Omayra. I'm here to talk a little about myself, my life, and how the Pregnancy Prevention and Support Initiative has helped me through some challenges.

It all started when I turned 11 years old. I started skipping school and hanging out with a group of friends that weren't a very good influence for me. My family was falling apart because of all of the problems we were having. My mother didn't have time to worry about me, so I was doing whatever I wanted. My step-father left us when I was 12 because we weren't his daughters and we didn't listen to him.

I'm not sure how DSS showed up, but I'm pretty sure someone reported us; all of the neighborhood kids would hang out at our house. People - including my friends - started to talk about my family situation.

My mother was not able to be the parent I needed. "To each, his own" she once told me. I ended up in DSS custody, and then I ended up loosing control and started running away from every foster placement. There was no way they could keep me in a stable home, so I was committed to DYS at age 14.

After a couple of years in lock-up, I had a change of heart. I Grew tired of being locked up and decided to do what ever it took to get back into the community. I was finally released and went to live with my grandparents in Lowell. Reporting to the Eliot Center was one of the requirements I needed to meet in order to stay in the Community. I met a very nice and amazing lady at the Eliot Center named Angie Spears; she showed me other ways of living my life, even with the hard, bumpy roads. I learned how to break the cycle.

I thought things would get easier after I turned 18…but, since I "knew it all," the only thing I thought wouldn't happen to me did happen! I got pregnant and my whole life changed. My worst fear about becoming a parent was not being able to support myself and my son - I was very angry, scared and confused. Now, I have the greatest little boy.

Now I'm trying to do bigger and better things for myself. I'm living in a shelter far away from Lowell, my home town. Living in a shelter is not the most pleasant place; stuff happens every day that I can't control: people steal my food and supplies, anything they can get a hold of. So, everyday, I try my best to deal with my environment as much as I can. I try to avoid the drama and selfish things people do. But no matter what I do things won't change there, so I'm working with Angie and a transitional living program to find a better home for my family, near public transportation so I can get to classes and appointments, and be a great mom for my son. I'm currently working on my GED, and I started a job just about one month ago today. I'm glad to say I'm married and have a beautiful little family of my own.

Although I don't always have everything for my baby, TPPSI helps me gain the strength I need to make it through and motivates me when I feel like giving up. I dream that my son will stay in school and listen to me because I have been through it and down it. I do not know where I would be without the support and comfort from the program; I am getting stronger.

This is how I ended up here, speaking in front of all of you, who I barely know. But this is what I chose. I want to speak out to all the teens and parents. We all need support at times, but we need the most attention when we are teens. Parents should get more involved in their teen's life just to show they care and understand that growing up is not the easiest thing. Teens should just listen, because even though most advice might sound a little off-track, you'll never understand until you're there. So take your life day by day, and don't rush things, because one thing there is a lot of in this world is TIME!

This information is provided by the Department of Youth Services.