Megan Sweeney was still a schoolgirl when her son Christian was born in 2006. Despite the challenges of being a teenage mum, she went on to graduate from university and forge a successful career in sales and marketing. She tells us how a National Lottery-funded project for teenage mums gave her the support she needed to fulfil her dreams .
I found out about the Teenage Pregnancy project through my health visitor. A lady called Heather who was involved with the project got a group of teenagers who were expecting babies together and told us about the guidance and support they could offer us.
We also did antenatal classes with her, which was great, because it meant that I didn’t have to go to classes with a lot of people who were older than me. I was with girls in a similar position to myself, so I felt comfortable.
At the time, that was such a big thing because I did feel alone and it was good to have a support network of people in the same situation.
There’s a lot of negativity surrounding teenage pregnancy. But this group was always so positive – it kept my spirits up.
The project played a big part in keeping us in education and keeping us motivated – it taught us not to let go of our abilities. If you wanted to make a career and a life for yourself, they encouraged you to keep going. The message was – having a child isn’t going to get in your way.
That’s how it has turned out for me. I finished school and went to university. Now I’m doing my dream job as a European sales executive for Foyle Food Group and manage customer accounts for the firm’s French and Spanish clients. I’m using my languages every day even though I’m back in Derry.
Christian is also doing great at school. He speaks fluent Spanish as we spent two years living in Guadalajara, just outside Madrid. At that age they can adjust really easily – he didn’t lose his English at all while he was in Spain. He’s bilingual so he’s a lucky boy. I’m going to keep his Spanish up now we’re home.
It’s difficult to learn a second language when you’re older so it was important for me to make sure he learnt one at a young age. I couldn’t be any more proud of him – he’s a great wee man.