Teen father overwhelmed by response from public

Noa Woolloff, 17, with his 9-month-old daughter Kyla in Plimmerton. Photo / Mark Coote
Noa Woolloff, 17, with his 9-month-old daughter Kyla in Plimmerton. Photo / Mark Coote

Schoolboy father Noa Woolloff says he's been overwhelmed by the response to his story.

In yesterday's Herald, the 17-year-old Aotea College head boy talked about his experiences becoming a father before finishing high school.

Noa, from Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, found out at the end of 2014 that his former girlfriend was pregnant.

READ MORE: Teen dad ready for responsibility of head boy role

Their daughter, Kyla, is now 9 months old.

Kyla is cared for by her grandmother while her mother is at school, and Noa visits her every day, while working in a supermarket and as a tennis coach to pay for nappies and formula.

Noa said the response to yesterday's story had been "pretty crazy" and he'd heard "a lot of positives and a lot of negatives" from the public.

The more-negative responses had come mostly "from the older demographic".

"Driving home from work, I had the radio on and I was the topic of the show, it's pretty strange. Just people calling up and being really nasty, saying it's bad to bring a child into the world so young and saying I shouldn't be head boy."

However, attitudes like this are the reason Noa came forward with his story in the first place.

"As a teen dad, that's exactly what I want to change, because it's so stereotypically wrong."

However, he had received mostly messages of support, including many from other teen parents.

"I hoped my story would reach out to people, so I've got multiple messages from people who are pregnant at the moment and are going through pretty much the same situation that I've been going through."

Kyla's mum had also enjoyed the story, but preferred to stay out of the spotlight for now, Noa said.

She thought it was "pretty crazy", though, with her daughter being seen by thousands of people.

It had taken Noa until Kyla was 3 months old before he told his mother, Siggy Woolloff -- who was also pregnant at the time -- what had happened.

Mrs Woolloff recalls receiving a text from Noa on that day saying, "Are you up for a talk?"

"I thought he was either going to say he's gay or having a baby," she said.

"Of course it was a shock to find out I was already a grandma. But in his mind he thought he was being honourable, he thought it would be stressful. I just told him that new life was a blessing, and I was still proud of him."

Noa said his mother had been "blown away" by the public reaction to his story.

"She was very happy because this is what we've been aiming to do, to inspire other teen parents, and that's what I've done from the messages I've received."

As well as being a dad, Noa will this year juggle his academic pursuits with playing 1st XI football, national-level tennis, recording music and fulfilling his leadership responsibilities as Aotea College's head boy.

On top of all of that, he is thinking of doing even more. "I'm thinking about potentially getting a teen parents website up and running, so there's a forum for people to communicate when they're going through the same situation.

"From the reaction from today, I think that'd be good."

- NZ Herald

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