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120 Years, 120 Stories: Juana’s Story

By YWCA of Minneapolis
November 14, 2011
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YWCA child care allows a young mother to finish her education

Juana is 17 years old and a senior at Minneapolis South High School. Her daughter, Emmalena, is two and has attended the YWCA Midtown Children’s Center since she was six months old. As a young mother, Juana works hard to provide for her daughter and stay focused on her own dreams.


Every morning, I get up for school, I get myself ready, then I wake up Emmalena and get her dressed for daycare. We go downstairs and say good morning to her grandma, and then I fix her hair and put her favorite cotton-candy perfume on. 

After that, we put her jacket and shoes on and wait for my mom to get ready for work. Before I go to school, I drop off Emmalena at the YWCA Midtown Children’s Center. We go to her classroom and take off her jacket and wash her hands. I give her a kiss goodbye and say “I love you.” Then she goes and eats breakfast. Her daycare takes good care of her, especially her teacher, Dawn. Her daycare is a warm, loving place to be.

Since Emma started at the YWCA Children’s Center, she’s grown up so much! She gets to go on field trips, like to the Midtown Global Market, and got to meet SpongeBob SquarePants with her class. She also gets to go swimming and play in the gym every day. Emma’s talkative and learns new words every day. She’s confident and independent and wants to do things on her own.

My mother helps me out a lot with my daughter. She picks her up when I can’t. My mother is my hero. She’s a single mother of eight. Three of my siblings are adopted. She does her best at providing for all of us. I really don’t know how Emmalena and I would be without my mother being there for us. My mother was the one who told me about the YWCA childcare. My older sister and one of my brothers had been going to the YWCA Strong Fast Fit program, which is a fitness and nutrition program for Native American and Latino youth. Part of the program is a family membership to the YWCA. Our whole family can go to the YWCA on Friday nights to go swimming together.

After school, I walk home and have 20 minutes to do homework, and then I get ready for my job. I work from 4-9 a couple days a week, and my mom helps take care of Emmalena. I work really hard to provide for my daughter. I get assistance from the government to help pay for childcare and I get a scholarship from the YWCA.

I’m active in my school. I joined an intertribal student council and I started competing in science fairs. Last year, I did a project on wetland health monitoring. I competed at regionals and at state. I also went to New Mexico to compete at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Because of my daughter, I’m motivated to do well in school and I’m excited when I think about going to college.

Without the YWCA, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now — getting good grades in school, working two jobs, and taking care of my daughter. I’m grateful to have the YWCA childcare and teachers a part of my life, and my daughter’s life too.