When Melissa Redsell found herself pregnant at the age of 16, she never dreamt she would go to university, or forge a successful career, let alone found a thriving charity helping other young mums-to-be.
“I was constantly told I had ruined my life, that I would amount to nothing and my life was over,” Melissa says.
Determined to prove her detractors wrong, Melissa graduated from high school seven months pregnant.
“When my daughter was 10 months old, I decided I wanted to do something to benefit her, and to benefit myself,” she says.
With one-year-old Breanna in tow, Melissa enrolled to study nursing, juggling motherhood with studying.
“I worked as a registered nurse, and then went back to study to become a midwife.
“But I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to use my story to help other teenage mums.”
Her work at a hospital in the Moreton Bay Region provided the inspiration for the birth of A Brave Life in 2015.
Funded through donations, grants, and sponsorship, the charity provides new nappy bags for expectant teen mums through its Baby Bundle program.
Filled with essentials such as nappies, wipes, clothing and baby wash, the bags are a lifeline for the young women who turn to A Brave Life for help.
“The girls say having the bags makes them feel more equipped for their baby” Melissa says.
Recently they expanded to provide care packs with basics such as toiletries for young mothers who find themselves unexpectedly having to rush to hospital.
The team at A Brave Life includes Breanna, who works as a qualified counsellor and mentor. Alongside her colleagues, Breanna, encourages clients to follow their dreams and provides practical guidance to help them navigate any roadblocks.
Many mentors were once clients of the team, and now share their own experiences and support.
“I just say to the girls that I am their biggest cheerleader,” Melissa says.
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