KISS OF LIFE: Young mum Alisha Garlick gets a kiss from her daughter, Kamaya, 3.
KISS OF LIFE: Young mum Alisha Garlick gets a kiss from her daughter, Kamaya, 3. Janine Hill

Teens learning life lessons in the school of motherhood

ALISHA Garlick's grandmother told her at a dinner for her 16th birthday that she had a surprise for her.

"She said she was going to take me to school the next day," Alisha said.

Alisha thought that unlikely.

She was more than four months pregnant and had dropped out of school about 18 months earlier.

But Alisha's grandmother was not taking her back to school as she knew it, but to STEMM, program at Burnside State High School supporting pregnant girls and young mothers through their education.

"I was scared. I got really afraid of being judged," she said.

"I was afraid of what people would think - but everyone who was there was in a similar situation to me."

Alisha, now 19 and the mother of Kamaya, 3, will graduate from STEMM on Tuesday.

Over the last four years, she has completed two certificates in beauty, one in workplace practice, and another in first aid.

She is now looking at going on to TAFE to complete a certificate in disability support which will enable her to work with people with a disability.

"I've decided I wanted to make a difference in someone's life, even if it's just for a short period.

"I just want to help people in some way.

Alisha has grown up since she was a teenage tearaway.

She is bringing up Kamaya on her own, with family support, paying off a car, and hopes to one day buy a house.

Although she loves her daughter, she said she had not realised how difficult life as a young mother would be when she fell pregnant.

"I was happy. I kind of wanted a family. But I look back now and think I was an idiot, I should have waited."

"It's a lot harder to do everything now."

She said she had lost friends when she fell pregnant but also discovered who her true friends were.

She said she was now a more mature person than she was four years ago.

"My point of view has changed on a lot of things.

"As a kid, I thought I'm never going to be like my parents but now that I've had Kamaya, I understand why they were the way they were and where they were coming from.

"When you start to agree with your parents on a lot of stuff, I guess you know you've changed."

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