Cristian Morales, 19-year-old young father and Young Parent Ambassador, was featured in this week’s issue of The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Bulletin. The Young Parent Ambassador Program consists of 10 young parents in the Boston area who are dedicated to empowering, educating, and supporting other young parents. Check out his awesome story.
It’s hard for Cristian Morales to recognize his former self.
The 19-year-old grew up on the streets of Lynn and once belonged to a gang. But roughly three years ago, Morales became a father, and his entire life changed.
On Wednesday, June 27th, the Center for Community Health and Health Equity hosted the second annual summit for young parents at Northeastern. This event is an opportunity for young parents to defeat isolation and meet other young parents who understand their lives.
As a former young parent, I realize there is a desperate need for this type of event. Throughout my own pregnancy, there were many times when I needed guidance, support, and help but felt too ashamed to ask. I didn’t know any other young parents and felt that my struggles were unique. When I joined the planning committee during its conception in 2010, I knew this summit would be something amazing and have been dedicated to it since.
The Center for Community Health and Health Equity created the Young Parent Ambassador Program in early 2012 in hopes of uniting young parents from the Greater Boston area and empowering them to become community leaders. Throughout the planning process, these young parent ambassadors played a major role in the planning process and made most of the bigger decisions for this event. In order to ensure this event was comfortable for young parents, we needed their voices throughout the planning.
For 3 months, a group of young parents served as young parent ambassadors who contributed to our blog (you can see their photos and blog links on the lower-right side of this site), communicated frequently via social media and email, contributed writing to our Young Parent Anthology, and attended meetings.
With their help, we were able to host a very successful event. Young parents from the Greater Boston area came to the summit and connected with the agencies and organizations that could help them. From childcare to housing to education, resources from all directions were available. Most importantly, this was a chance for young parents to feel empowered and inspired by other young parents. Often enough, young parents are told how to live their lives but this was the time for them to think about how they want to change their lives.
Through the ambassador program and the summit, young parents were pleased with the results. Check out these young parent quotes:
I really enjoyed my ivolvement with STEPS! I managed to create a network of people that are a fountain of information to me. In addition, I was able to connect with a part of myself that I didn’t know how to expose. I am now confident in speaking about everything I’ve gone through, and have no doubt that what I’ve been through is one of my sucesses.
My experience as an ambassador is one of the greatest experiences I’ve gone through in my life. Through positive action, meeting other people who are going through the same struggles, and watching them overcome those struggles makes me push myself harder – like there’s no limit.
Our young parent ambassador and single father, Cristian Morales, was interviewed by the Boston Globe this past week. On the day of our annual summit, his inspirational story was published for the whole city to read.