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'Teen Moms Have a Future' film debuts on Nov. 29

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Pictured from left are Naily Cervantes, Courtney Polk and Brittany Harmon. Polk directed 'Teen Moms Have a Future' with assistance from Harmon.Courtney Polk wanted to make the short documentary “Teen Moms Have a Future,” primarily to break down some stereotypes about teen mothers, perpetuated in many cases by the popular media.

“A big motivation was to counteract such shows as ‘Teen Mom’ and ‘16 and Pregnant,’ Polk said, adding that she finds such programs “horrible and degrading.”

The stereotype “is so incredibly far from what people think. Everyone thinks we get help from the government or our families, but most teen parents don’t live with their parents and can’t get help from the government until they turn 18,” she said.

Polk intimately understands the situation, as she had her daughter when she was 16. Finding other young moms to be a part of the film was easy, even when they found out how public this was going to be, she said, adding, “They were so incredibly brave for doing this; they totally believed in what we were doing.”

She also noted that no teen fathers agreed to be in the film.

Polk, who is now 20, is pursuing a degree in digital multimedia communications at Clackamas Community College, and ultimately wants to be a film director.

She served as creative director of the film, and now that it is making its debut on Nov. 29 at Milwaukie High School’s J.C. Lillie Performing Arts Center Black Box Theater, she hopes that it reaches a wide audience.

Arts grant

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Courtney Polk and Antoine Carney cuddle with their daughter, Anaya Polk-Carney.The project began with a grant in early 2012 to the Arts Committee of the city of Milwaukie from the Clackamas Cultural Commission, noted Beth Ragel, community services program coordinator for the city of Milwaukie.

The original idea was to work with an organization to make a short film about teens in transition, but when that fell through, the arts committee, known as artMOB, turned to Milwaukie’s Madonna’s Center, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting teen parents in Clackamas County.

“They were really into it. The next project they wanted to do was a documentary, so this was a perfect fit; the motivation was already there,” said Zara Logue, a member of artMOB and a design teacher at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Logue, who served as producer of the film, said filming started in July and took about three months to complete. She worked primarily with Polk and another young woman, Brittany Harmon, in making “Teen Moms Have a Future.”

“Madonna’s Center connected us to teen moms who were willing to tell their stories,” Logue said, noting that all the young women are from Clackamas County.

Before filming began, Logue, Polk and Harmon developed a list of questions to ask each of the interviewees, including how old they were when they became pregnant and what their goals were.

All of the young women kept their children and a lot of them are working to complete their level of schooling, Logue noted.

Grant money was used to purchase a video camera and microfilm, and to pay a professional editor, Ben Meader, to pull all the footage together, she said.

‘Community Connections’

The primary motivation to making the film goes along with artMob’s intention to use arts to create community connections, Logue said.

“Although this is a documentary, we are using the tools of art to create those connections, and Courtney’s goal was to connect to the larger community, to larger issues,” Logue said.

“Arts aren’t just about decorating, they are about engagement. As I was telling people about the project, I was surprised by the interest in the issue. So many people are touched by the story, either from within their own story or from family members,” added Ragel.

The film provided the teen moms who took part with a sense of ownership and gave them a chance to tell their real life stories, Logue said.

She added, “This is pretty charged territory, because of the subject, but the film itself is a neutral entity, but with a positive message.”

The film is not promoting Madonna’s Center or artMOB, but is intended to be shared with other resources as a “tool to start conversation,” Ragel said.

‘Family friendly event’

Ragel noted that the showing on Nov. 29 is a “family friendly event, perfectly appropriate to bring your kids to if they are junior high age and up.”

People should see the film, Logue said, because “it is a reflection of one of the issues in our community. However you feel, what you believe about teen parents going in, this film will change your perception. It is a nice little vignette of one issue that is nicely framed in a positive way.”

“It provides hope and shows the challenges to teen parents. It shows that it is possible to be successful in life,” Ragel said.

Logue added, “The film talks about the difficulties once you involve a child in your life, and it makes those clear. It shows these women are really strong and moving on, and what they are trying to achieve.”

Fast Facts

“Teen Moms Have a Future” — a documentary film

Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 7 p.m.

J.C. Lillie Performing Arts Center Black Box Theater

Milwaukie High School

11300 S.E. 23rd Ave. (enter from Lake Road)

Admission is free and open to the public; the event is family-friendly and children are welcome.

A short Q & A panel session with the teen moms will be presented after the film.

To learn more about artMOB, contact Beth Ragel, city of Milwaukie community services program coordinator, at 503-786-7568, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To learn more about Madonna’s Center, an organization set up to support teen parents in Clackamas County, visit madonnascenter.org. Madonna’s Center is holding a diaper drive on Dec. 1, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the organization’s outreach office, 13800 S.E. Webster Road, Suite 101, Milwaukie. Call 503-653-1595 for more information.



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