Tyra Moore remembers all too well what it was like to be pregnant at 14.
At first, she tried to ignore the pregnancy signs and symptoms, but months later, she couldn’t deny the feeling any longer, and began to feel small kicks in her stomach. During that time, Moore had only told two people her secret — her unborn child’s father and her best friend.
“I was scared and nervous,” explains Moore. “My mom was just talking to me about a friend at church who was pregnant and all along, I was pregnant too. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Moore didn’t have much time to think of a plan. She gave birth to her daughter Samari on May 25, 2007, the same week her mother found out.
Right after delivery, Moore says that she had to grow up fast in order to raise her little girl.
“Being a teen mom was very hard. I missed out on so much when it came to high school activities such as prom,” says Moore. “I was 14 with a baby. I was ashamed of myself, thinking suicidal thoughts because the closest people to me were telling me my life was over and I was always going to be a failure, not doing regular things teens my age could do.”
Raising a child as a child was difficult, she says.
“I was not able to properly provide for my child on my own,” she says. “I couldn’t finish high school with my friends. But most of all I missed out on my teen years, because I had to grow up to make sure my kid was well taken care of and had everything she needed.”
But Moore didn’t struggle alone. She says her community worked together to help her provide for her newborn baby.
“My village all came together for me,” she says. “I had everything you could think of to raise a baby. I don’t even remember buying diapers for a long time. Even though I was a teen, my mom would buy them.”
From that moment, Moore made a promise to herself that she would pay it all forward. “One day me and my husband were driving, and I was just closing my eyes, vibing during one of our drives, and it came to me: ‘A Girl Like Me,’” Moore says. “I wanted to help Girls Like Me.”
At that moment, the former teen mom got the idea to create a safe space to help other girls and teens. “I wanted to help them with understanding their bodies, family-friend relationships, their mental health, and how self-care matters, life skills, and more,” she says.
Her nonprofit organization A Girl Like Me Inc. helps young mothers between the ages of 11 to 25. The program provides free diapers, wipes, baby formula, personal hygiene kits, and food, along with new and gently used baby items, clothing, and shoes. It also provides resources and a mentoring program from girls between the ages of 11 to 17.
“For the teen moms, the organization will help by providing them with necessities to take care of themselves and their babies,” she explains. “The group will help them to stay in school by providing resources, and finding reliable childcare to help them get jobs and not give up on their life.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. teen birth rate had been declining for decades, dropping 64% between 1991 and 2015, resulting in $4.4 billion in public savings in 2015. Teen birth rates continued to decline from 17.4 per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19 in 2018, to 16.7 per 1,000 in 2019, and 15.4 in 2020, a record low. But the CDC also found racial disparities in the teen birth rates: in 2019, birth rates for Black teens (25.8) and Hispanic teens (25.3) were more than two times higher than for non-Hispanic white teens (11.4).
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade could have “grave consequences” for teen mothers, who already face high barriers to accessing health care services, including abortion. In Michigan, voters will decide whether to keep abortion legal in the Nov. 8 general election after a group called Reproductive Freedom for All turned in a record number of signatures to bring the issue to the ballot.
Moore says giving back is one of the most important principles in life.
“Making people smile because you have the resources to help them is the best feeling in the world,” she says. “Everyone should give back, and that may not be items. Just saying ‘hi’ to someone is giving back. You don’t know what kind of day they may have had or having. We were all put on this earth to help one another, and it feels so good to do so.”
Her hope is that her program will help young women make it through life.
“I want to be a huge impact, so that the moms that we help will want to come back to be a vessel for other moms in their shoes,” she says.
In the near future, Moore wants to have an apartment building for homeless teens and young moms as a way to help them get on their feet. She also plans to provide classes to finish school and provide help with getting a job, transportation, housing, and to provide a daycare center inside the apartments.
“I enjoy showing the young moms I’ve been in their shoes before, showing them I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help in any way I can,” she says. “Being able to listen to them because they don’t have anyone that understands them or being able to provide items to help them when they don’t have anyone else to turn to just brings joy to my spirit.”
She adds, “I want moms to learn not to ever let anyone tell you can’t or won’t accomplish anything because you had a baby, your life isn’t over. You can talk to me, and I will help you with your goals and dreams.”
More information on A Girl Like Me Inc. is available at 313-957-9952 or visit agirllikemeinc.org.