OGDEN, UT. (AP) — In a large carpeted room at a high school in northern Utah, several babies are learning how to roll onto their stomachs and walk.
The babies are the first to enroll in a revamped child care program at Two Rivers High School in Ogden, which opened at the beginning of the school year, the Standard-Examiner reports . The program is helping young parents finish their education and spend more time with their children.
On a Thursday morning, Sydnee Daily, a senior at Two Rivers, was playing with her 5-month-old daughter, Mila, and teaching her how to roll over from her back to her stomach. Mila is also learning how to grasp toys at the daycare.
“I don’t have much time to teach her that, but she learned it here,” Daily said.
A previous childcare program at Two Rivers was closed in 2016 because there weren’t enough students participating to justify the $55,000 staffing cost, according to Weber School District spokesman Lane Findlay and previous Standard-Examiner reporting.
The new program is run by Amy Anderson, a Two Rivers sociology teacher, and three paraprofessionals who watch the children during the day. District officials and community donors really helped to bring the program back, said Nicole Meibos, the school’s principal.
Te’Adora Roach, another Two Rivers senior, became a mother at the end of ninth grade. She struggled to balance the challenges of parenthood and school and stayed home for her junior year.
“Time was against me,” she said.
Now, Roach is happy to see Two Rivers supporting young parents. Her son, Jay’Cinthyan, 2, was practicing rolling and playing with balls at the daycare.
“It actually puts a very warm feeling in my heart that this program is here and dedicated to helping young moms,” she said.
While there are other similar programs in Utah, they are scarce locally: The Ogden School District closed its program at George Washington High School more than a decade ago. Teen pregnancy rates have steadily declined in Utah over the past five years, according to data from the Utah Department of Health.
This time, officials plan to keep the program running for the foreseeable future, regardless of fluctuations in enrollment.
“They’re great moms,” Meibos said. “They just needed a chance. We love them all.”