Nov 7, 2011 5:36 PM by David Ortiviz
Most kids her age fantasize about getting a car, she wanted a baby. "I thought I was in love and I wasn't really thinking clear," said Geneva Montoya. Montoya says he had a steady boyfriend when she got pregnant at age 16, but her relationship didn't last. The young mom soon realized the 24-hour commitment of parenthood, would change her life forever. "It's way overwhelming sometimes. There are points when you still have your breakdowns," said Montoya.
Today, her son Timarion is almost 2-years old. Montoya says her son has brought a lot of joy into her life, but she's also struggled. Her friends drifted away, she quit high school and battled depression.
News 5 asked Montoya if she would change any decisions she made. "Ya. Most definitely. I would have actually thought it through and thought ahead of what a baby can do and what you miss out on and so much for me it... I mean I was the friends, but... I'm gonna cry, it was more like school. I never wanted to quit school. It's just hard," said Montoya as she wiped away her tears. "I felt like I let everybody down and not only them but myself because I knew I could achieve my goals and I kind of gave up," she added.
Montoya's situation highlights a larger issue in Pueblo County. Pueblo has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the state. Last year, 1 in 17 teenage girls got pregnant, which is almost twice the Colorado average.
While some got pregnant on purpose, research shows nationwide two-thirds of teen pregnancies aren't planned. The Pueblo City-County Health Department says teens have been getting mixed messages about sex. "The later you can wait to be sexually active, it's much healthier. But if you are sexually active you have to be responsible. My dream would be every adult would say that, you've got to be responsible and that means you use birth control, you use condoms," said Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, Public Health Director for the health department.
The health department hasn't had much success reducing teen pregnancies in Pueblo in the past, but now they have new hope. The Teen Outreach Program or TOP was just launched for middle school students in Pueblo West. "This is the first opportunity that we have had to use an evidence based program in Pueblo that actually--TOP has actually shown to decrease school dropouts and teen pregnancy," said Dr. Nevin-Woods. The pilot program focuses on building self-esteem and teaching kids to set higher goals. They eventually hope to expand it to all middle schools in Pueblo County.
As for Geneva Montoya, she's determined to succeed. "I've always wanted to be a nurse and I'm going to be a nurse and I'm going to be a vet," said Montoya. She enrolled into an alternative high school at Pueblo Community College and could earn her diploma by next month.
More mature and wiser at age 18, her message to teen girls: "Don't give your body. Have respect for your body. Keep it like it's gold. Like it's a treasure," said Montoya.
The health department is looking for more middle school students in Pueblo West to join the top program. For more information about the program call Kristi Roque at 719-583-4363.