Gila County — Becoming a parent can be a pretty scary thing, especially when you are still a kid yourself. Teen moms face all sorts of adversities in addition to the uncertainties of child bearing. Sometimes the feeling of being scared and alone can be very overwhelming, and not all teens can rely on family support to get them through these trying times. That is where Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services (TOPS) steps in to help.
TOPS was founded to “address the needs of pregnant teens by providing a support program in a non-judgmental, teen specific environment.” Specifically, TOPS is there to answer questions, provide information about giving birth and parenting, as well as help keep young parents on the right track to be able to provide for their child. Laura Pedersen, executive director, explained, “TOPS helps these high-risk teens overcome barriers that they face, while encouraging them to move forward in their lives in a positive way.”
TOPS offers a wide range of services from prenatal support to parenting classes. Healthy Pregnancy classes are started as early as possible in a teen’s pregnancy and address issues of nutrition, discomforts associated with pregnancy, recognizing and avoiding pregnancy problems, control and secondary abstinence, and the adoption option.
Following these classes, pregnant teens and their partners are offered childbirth education classes, which address everything from delivery methods to postpartum care and breastfeeding basics. These classes are offered here in Globe-Miami as well as at several locations in the valley. Local classes are held at the Globe Education Center and Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center. A support group also meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Globe.
TOPS not only provides educational classes, it helps pregnant teens and their partners to enroll in programs designed to help them provide for their child. This includes programs such as WIC, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Books from Birth program, TOPS scholars to help teen parents continue their education, and the TOPS Dollars programs.
To register to become a part of TOPS and to receive education and support, visit www.teenoutreachaz.org or call 1-480-668-8800 or toll free at 1-877-882-2881. You can also e-mail Charlene.becker@ topsaz.org.