Kia Manawanui award winners, Phillipa Stevens, left, and Ariana Andrews. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

CHELSEA BOYLE

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Teen mum Ariana Andrews’ life changed for the better when she welcomed her daughter Jasmine into the world.

She had been battling depression but has turned it around to become a top student at Wairarapa’s Teen Parent Unit (TPU).

The TPU was established in 2002 and is based in the grounds of Makoura College.

It gives teen parents or pregnant teenagers a chance to reach their educational goals while entering parenthood.

The group held a prizegiving this week which recognised how far they had come.

One of the top awards, Kia Manawanui, was awarded jointly to Miss Andrews and classmate Phillipa Stevens.

Teacher Linda Topp told the gathering how Miss Andrews strove for excellence in every aspect of her life, “from her make-up to her singing”.

Miss Andrews had gained excellence marks in physics, chemistry, maths and accounting.

She was one of the student representatives for the TPU group this year.

Balancing study alongside raising a baby is no mean feat but the young mum is full of praise for those who have helped her along the way.

There was so much support at the TPU, Miss Andrews said.

“It’s given me a lot of opportunities and I have been able to grow as a person.

“I’m so grateful for everything I have been able to achieve through TPU.”

Now working part-time at McDonald’s, she has set her sights set on becoming a lawyer.

Miss Andrews is no stranger to hard work and said: “It does get easier, it’s worth it”.

Jasmine, who is 1-1/2, was a motivating force in her life.

“My daughter changed my life.

“She is very mischievous and very loving. She doesn’t have a favourite toy, she cuddles them all.

“She always gives big smiles to everyone.”

Miss Stevens, 16, gave birth to her son, Tamati, late this year.

“My life has completely changed,” she said.

The TPU helped her so much. Being around girls who were going through the same things made a huge difference, she said.

Nobody ‘looked at you weirdly if you needed to breastfeed your child’, she said.

“You don’t feel like an outcast.”

Miss Stevens said she felt such a love for her new baby.

“When you have a baby, people say it’s a love you haven’t felt before — it’s true, you really do.”