[Rachel is interviewed in this new JFP article about teen birth in Mississippi.]
Kids Having Kids by Lacey McLaughlin
Jackson Free Press–November 17, 2010
Ollie Jackson’s baby, Lauryn, sleepily rubs her eyes as she sits on her 19-year-old father’s lap during a football game at Newell Field in Jackson. As Callaway and Lanier High School football teams battle each other, several bubbly teenage girls gather around and lavish his daughter with attention. The 9-month-old smiles as the teens take turns holding her. Ollie searches the field for his girlfriend, Lanier High School senior Ariel Jones. Each Friday night, Ollie brings the baby to football games while Lauryn’s mother volunteers as the band manager. The couple lives separately, but each takes shifts raising their daughter.
Ollie met Ariel, 18, two years ago while they were both Lanier students. Ollie said he was drawn to Ariel’s pure heart. He had prayed for God to send him someone like her. The couple shared the same faith: Ollie is a leader of a local Young Life chapter, and Ariel is a spirit dancer at her church.
Three months after they started dating, Ariel started feeling nauseous and tired. At the suggestion of a cousin, she took a pregnancy test, and it came back positive.
As the former leader of Lanier High School’s snare-drum section, Ollie says his band director, Roderick Little, taught him what it means to have discipline. In the band, he learned to think through situations and not give in to peer pressure. “I wasn’t thinking with Ariel, though. I was in the moment,” he says of their decision to sleep together.