After more than 28 years in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista, Marilyn Wiedemann has seen her share of babies born either to moms who are drug dependent or premature due to lack of prenatal care. She felt she had a responsibility to mentor the mothers but did not quite know how to approach it. Then one day, she met Dr. Johnny Carter at the hospital. After discussing the situations she sees in the Neonatal ICU, they both realized that they had a similar vision and desire to help these newborns by getting to the root of the problem.
What Wiedemann and Dr. Carter established would later change the lives of hundreds in the community. The Youth Advocacy/Innocent Addicts Program (YAIAP) is a program of support and counseling for parents and children at risk. It’s a private, non-profit organization dedicated to educating, counseling and supporting the development of young people, their families and communities.
“We focus on rescuing young expecting mothers and other children who have fallen victim to drug addiction,” says Wiedemann.
Services provided by YAIAP include individual, family and group counseling in areas such as substance abuse; marriage and relationship strengthening; mentorship and an outpatient youth drug and alcohol recovery program.
“In creating this organization and getting out in the community and working with young girls, I have learned to see the other side of the coin and understand more where these youths are coming from and what I can do to help,” Wiedemann explains. “In turn, this counseling and education helps decrease the number of infants born unhealthy. Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista gave me the opportunity to realize that I can make a difference. Their support helps me get the education message out in more ways.”
The program has received commendations from Gov. Gray Davis and Congressman Bob Filner, among others.