When a young couple gets pregnant, they suddenly find themselves facing situations most of us encounter for the first time as adults and are unprepared to deal with them. Squires is a local organization providing support and mentorship to young parents, especially young dads, between the ages of 14 and 25 to help them find stability and be able to support their families.
Many young parents live below the poverty line. Many young couples don’t stay together long term. Many young parents are looked down upon by their community. These factors can just continue to pile up until the challenges seem insurmountable.
“They’re still just kids; having a child does not all of a sudden qualify you for adulthood,” says Squires Program Director Shanne Sowards, “A lot of the time they feel like they screwed up their lives and their kids’ lives. Squires helps change that mindset and give them opportunities to ‘level up’.”
Squires helps young parents build skills and “level up” in many different ways.
Through the Knight Project, young dads start as Squires and complete “quests” to achieve Knight status. In six months or less, they must read to their child for 50 hours, complete two financial literacy classes, complete two parenting education classes, attended two major Squires events, and attend five of the six special Knight Project meetings.
When they have completed their quests, the dads can become leaders in the Knight Project. Being a Knight means they can become a peer mentor for other people in the program and access a few additional resources like the annual Fathers and Families Coalition Conference.
Squires even awards young parents who earn their GED or their high school diploma with an honor cord to recognize the hard work they put toward graduating and parenting.
But one of the most important things Squires does is just showing young parents that someone cares about how they are doing and that they are not alone. They host events where young parents can meet other people going through similar situations and have a moment to just be young again and have some fun.
In spring, Squires hosted the Greater Portland Young Parent Fair at the KingPins Family Entertainment Center. Civic Life’s East Portland Community Office helped sponsor the fair, where more than 100 young parents gathered to connect with local resources and opportunities and go bowling with their families.
Whether it’s classes, food, or just a listening ear, Squires help young parents achieve their goals and support their families. Learn how you can get involved!