Melissa Redsell: A Brave Life: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Inspiring young mums to complete high school
Passionate. Inspiring. Brave
Judgmental people criticised Melissa Redsell when she became pregnant at high school and accused her of ruining her life.
But she proved them wrong and went on to complete a nursing degree and qualify as a midwife.
Melissa knows that the best way for young mothers to succeed in life is to finish high school, and she started A Brave Life charity to share her own story as inspiration for local girls.
She says teenage and young mums face stigma and judgment, but her aim is to ensure they have the support they need.
“I have seen the benefits that finishing high school and pursuing further education and employment have had on my life and the life of my children.”
Melissa is “blown away” by being voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s great to be acknowledged. It is absolutely amazing to think the community values what I’m doing.”
Since 2016, she has provided peer support to more than 30 teenage mothers at Deception Bay High School. After they graduate, the mums can attend regular morning teas in North Lakes or see Melissa for one-on-one mentoring sessions.
Melissa’s charity also supplies baby bundles to women aged under 25 who don’t have the basic necessities when they give birth.
“Our Baby Bundles are filled with items that many teenage and young mothers would not necessarily be able to afford. No mother should be without the essentials that she needs for her newborn baby,” she says.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
A Brave Life will use its grant to fund two mentors to provide weekly sessions at a local high school, cover the costs of morning teas and buy items for 100 baby bundles.
“The money will help us continue to provide mentoring to the teenage and young mothers who are completing their education,” says Melissa.
“We want to continue to go into schools to provide mentors who can encourage and empower young women to dream big.”
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.