ONA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new report says one in eight West Virginia babies is born to a teenage mother and one in three teenage girls say pregnancy is their reason for dropping out of high school.
The report was released two days ago by the West Virginia Kids Count.
Those are the statistics, but for a Cabell Midland High School senior that is a different story.
Elizabeth Lawhon was only a ninth grader when she had her child Kalie. This year, Lawhon will be graduating high school.
“I’m glad I have done it. Not many people get the chance to graduate having a kid,” Lawhon says.
She says it’s all due to the support she receives from the school’s very own daycare, Cabell Midland Early Head Start founded by the Southwestern Community Action.
“If the daycare wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have made it. I wouldn’t have graduated” Lawhon says. “Without them, it wouldn’t have happened.”
“We have a wonderful program here,” Amber Evans the Cabell Midland Early Start director says.
The daycare, Evans says, gave her the opportunity to help teenage girls.
“I’m happy to work with young ladies and their infants and toddlers and be able to make a difference in their lives,” Evans says.
The West Virginia Kids Count report says the number of registered family day care homes in Cabell County dropped from 95 in 2005 to 73 in 2012. A total 23.2 percent decrease.
“I wish more schools had daycares,” Lawhon says. “A lot of people are shocked when they know I take my daughter to school with me. They think that it is odd, but I think it would help. I think it would help the drop-out rate go down.”
Evans says she came to Cabell Midland Early Start right around the time Lawhon had her baby. She said it was great to watch Lawhon come into her own.
“She went from asking a lot of questions to doing it all on her own,” Evans says.
Lawhon says it is a tough task taking on high school and child. She says she has even helped care for her nephews.
“You don’t see how hard it is until it’s your job to make sure the child is taken care of,” Lawhon says.
Cabell Midland High School does teach sex educational courses and Lawhon says they do the best job that the can. She said she has even given advice to some of her classmates, but she says she, and the school, can only do so much.
“You can tell them it’s hard and hope they take the advice,” Lawhon says. “I wish people could see what it’s like. Take a kid home and see what it is like because it is hard.”
Lawhon admits it would have been easier to not go to school, but she knows she beat the statistics.
“Seeing the numbers gave me encouragement to do better for me and for Kalie,” Lawhon says. “I did it for her. To try to make things better for her, better than what they could have been.”
Upon graduation, Lawhon will work to become an LPN and then head to college to become registered nurse.
“She is going to be a great nurse,” Evans says.
Watching her become a parent, Evans says she is proud to have had such a great influence on Lawhon’s life.
“Makes me feel important that I’m making a difference in these young girl’s lives,” Evans says. “I can just see her having a great future and having lots more kids, being a great mommy!”
Lawhon says she knows having her daughter was a blessing in disguise though she would not have change one bit of it.
“I think it has made me grow up faster and be a better person,” Lawhon says.