SPOKANE, Wash. – Children in the Spokane community are overcoming amazing obstacles to get through school. They face challenges fueled by poverty, including homelessness, hunger and exhaustion.
One local nonprofit is working to keep those children in school while the need continues to climb.
Between studies and sports, Iyanna is booked. Yet, when she gets home at night, the real work begins.
“She’s fantastic, crazy, does cute little things. It makes it hard to go to school and take care of her, but she makes it worth the while,” said Iyanna.
On New Years Eve, just before the calendar changed to 2017, the North Central High School sophomore delivered the last baby of the year in this area. It was the first step in Iyanna’s journey as a teen mom.
“Taking care of Hazel at night, getting up, staying for track and taking care of her again,” said Iyanna.
However, Iyanna is lucky. She has family support. When it comes to school, she has another family watching out for her.
Communities in School is a non-profit, drop-out prevention program.
“Students can come get snacks throughout the day. Or a pencil. They don’t have to be on our caseload to do so,” said Shamerica Nakamura.
Nakamura is a site coordinator who works a caseload of 70 kids with varying needs and providing support for the kids at North Central High School.
Students may not know Nakamura works for Communities in School, but they feel the impact.
“It means more than I can say, actually. There’s not really a word I can put for it, it just feels like she’s there for me. It helps a lot,’” said Iyanna.
Communities in Schools wants to provide the safety net that can keep a kid from freefalling into dropout status. Some of the students have needs that are almost unimaginable.
“We have teens that may be sleeping under the bridge,” said Nakamura.
“I think every school should have one because it does save a lot of kids, ” said Iyanna.
The numbers are growing; they are up about 20% this year. Coordinators are carrying more than 600 students on their caseload. That care means success and is fueled by big dreams.
“I dream of going to college. I dream of just making sure Hazel knows, even thought I had her young, that I succeeded. I graduated high school, I graduated college, and I took care of her,” said Iyanna.
Iyanna said she might want to be an archaeologist one day. Regardless of what career she chooses, she wants her baby to know that anything is possible.
“I can tell her I did it,” said Iyanna.