Stephanie Hopson, London James and Felicia Okakok watching the movie: Hopson Middle School students Stephanie Hopson, London James and Felicia Okakok watch the movie “Mom at 16.”
The Barrow Education, Arts and Recreation Society (BEARS) made their debut with a movie and a forum on the topic of teenage pregnancy on Tuesday, March 28 at the Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow. The movie, “Mom at 16,” offered the audience a great example on the demands of a teenage mother and the effects on her family. Balancing school, a social life, and caring for her baby are the challenges facing the young woman. She is presented with several choices: raising the baby herself, letting her mother raise the baby or adopting her baby to a family. The movie was successful at communicating the difficult choices a young mother has to make in the best interest of her baby. Following the movie, the audience shifted into a talking circle and everyone had their own chance to discuss their thoughts on the film and also their own life experiences.


Kimberly Mack and Debbie Edwardson: Debbie Edwardson shares with the audience her story of her daughter’s teenage pregnancy.
Debbie Edwardson, a member of the North Slope Borough School District Board of Education, discussed her experience with her teenage daughter’s pregnancy. Edwardson incorporated the worldviews of her generation on the topic of teenage pregnancy, and compared them to today’s worldview in Barrow. She discussed her initial thoughts and reactions to finding out her teenage daughter had become pregnant, and described her supportive relationship that followed. Edwardson is proud of her daughter for graduating from high school with honors while caring for her baby.


Jasmine Kignak, Shiina Akpik, Felicia Okakok and Naomi Itta-Tomas: Naomi Itta-Tomas discusses her experience as a teenage mother. Next to Itta-Tomas is her daughter, Felicia Okakok.
Naomi Itta-Tomas openly discussed her life as a young teenage mother and related to the audience the joys and challenges she faced. By the age of 16, Itta-Tomas was married, earned her GED, working fulltime and raising two young children. She talked about how she grew up fast and took on the responsibilities of motherhood at a young age. Itta-Tomas shared with the audience the attitudes she dealt with from her family, her friends and the parents of her friends.


Darcie Koonook, Doreen Clark and Sue Bowen: Doreen Clark, a nurse at the Wellness Center, answers questions regarding the health changes a teenage mother experiences after giving birth.
Also present at the forum were employees from Public Health Nursing, Women Infants Children, and the Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital. These entities provided various health information handouts to the audience and answered questions regarding health issues.


Pearletha Patkotak and daughter, and Jasmine Kignak, Sara Jeffes and Felicia Okakok: Jasmine Kignak, a pregnant teenager, discusses her situation with the audience.
The BEARS is a new organization formed with the interest of creating free or low cost activities that stimulate the mind and thought process, create opportunities of open dialogue on community and family issues, and organize entertaining events. Possible future events include a celebration of the arts, suicide prevention forum, a film festival and a basketball tournament. For more information, please contact Brian Houston at 852-3651.

~ Contributed by Mary Sage March 2006