WOODBRIDGE, VA (WUSA9) - Autumn Williams was just 17 years old when she found out she was pregnant. The news came just months before she was set to leave for college on an athletic scholarship.
"I was completely distraught," she said. "Completely confused. I felt very helpless. Probably the most helpless I've ever felt in my life."
Now eight years later, Williams sat down with WUSA9 to reflect on her experience. She said that she felt very alone during that time period. She thought there was stigma, even at most pregnancy centers.
"They were kind of looking at me like I was crazy," she said. "And they didn't really know what to say to me to be honest."
To address this problem, Williams created a brand new pregnancy center in Woodbridge, solely for teen mothers. Williams decided to call the center the "Two Percent Project," based off of a startling statistic. Less than two percent of teen mothers go to college before the age of 30.
"That shows that programs like these are needed," she said. "And there's a lot of stigma around being a teen parent. And maybe that's why a lot of these programs aren't here for them."
Nationwide, there are approximately 24 teen mothers for every 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 19. In some communities the rate is even higher. In Prince Williams County for example, the rate is nearly three percent of that age group.
In 2015, Williams was able to graduate from college at the age of 23, and she is now pursuing her masters. She said she is hopeful other teen moms in the area can do the same, with the help of this center.
"I hope we can offer just the idea to some teen mom," she said. "If they can see our staff and our supporters, and look at them... maybe they'll get the idea that 'maybe I should go to college. Maybe I should finish high school. Maybe I should go after my dream.'"
The program is a non-profit, and so it gets all of it's funding from community donations. So far, the program has had 13 clients in the few months it's been open.
Next year Williams said that they are hoping to create a similar program for teen fathers.
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