After almost three decades of helping young women finish their high school education after falling pregnant at a young age, Trinity Learning Centre (TLC) closed its doors on Saturday 28 February.
At UnitingCare West premises in Victoria Park current and previous staff, volunteers, past students, their children and families gathered together to celebrate the work of TLC over the years and the difference the service has made in the lives of so many young women, their children and their families.
The children had their faces painted and enjoyed the bouncy castle in the parking lot. Festive sunflower decorations symbolised the seeds that were planted in young lives. A celebratory cake was cut by CEO Sue Ash AO, founding member Audrey Francis and past student Amanda.
Hundreds of young women graduated with high school diplomas, moving on to further education and successful careers after attending TLC where they received much needed assistance with both studying and parenthood. At the TLC Crèche the babies and toddlers received care whilst their mothers where attending school.
Past student Amanda spoke at the event and emphasised the difference the program had made in her life. Many past students retrieved joyful memories reconnecting with each other, staff and volunteers. The walls featured photos from the mums and bubs attending TLC during the past 27 years. A special history book was compiled for the occasion and all attending received a copy.
CEO Sue Ash AO acknowledged the communal sadness amongst all involved with the founding and running of the program. “TLC has made a difference in the lives of so many young women. It came forth from the vision of Dr Harry Cohen who saw the need for support after these young women gave birth. Together with Rev Wes Hartley and Audrey Francis they started TLC as a service ran from Trinity Church in Perth CBD, supporting teenage women when their lives changed dramatically, giving them an opportunity to continue their education.”
Members of the Uniting Church Council Audrey, Betty and Keith attended the event and looked back with pride on all that was achieved. CEO Sue Ash AO acknowledged how in the past ten years, the State Education Department has started to accommodate the needs of young women who become pregnant before completing their schooling and the supports for young parents have also improved. While the additional services don’t fully replicate the TLC program, TLC has seen a gradual decrease in the number of students enrolling and the number of children accessing the crèche.
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