The Rig is pleased to announce that Josiah Bernardo, a freshman at Camden Hills Regional High School and Frannie Wheeler-Berta, the director of The Rig, will attend the the Maine Youth Action Network’s Peer Leadership Conference on Thursday, Nov. 11 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Bernardo will represent The Rig at the conference, attend workshops and meet teens from all over the state. As a former youth participant put it, “I’m leaving the conference with a way to advocate for youth. No matter what age you are, you can make a difference. I am leaving with many new ways to communicate with others.”

The Maine Youth Action Network is an initiative of the People’s Regional Opportunity Program and was initiated in 2001. Throughout the Maine Youth Action Network’s history they have valued meaningful youth involvement, exploring different ways to engage youth in the guidance, planning and implementation of their work.

The annual Peer Leadership Conference brings together hundreds of youth and adults from across the state for inspiring workshops, networking, speakers and action planning. Participants leave feeling inspired and informed, ready to take action back home. The Maine Youth Action Network strongly believes int eh power of youth and adult partnerships and strives to live and model this value throughout its work.

The Rig’s philosophy and mission mirrors the Maine Youth Action Network’s beliefs. Since opening its doors in June 2010, The Rig’s membership has grown from a core group of 25 students to more than 70 ninth to twelfth-graders in the Midcoast area. Members of The Rig volunteer at the facility or in the community, facilitate meetings, curate student art shows, write fundraising letters and grants, represent The Rig by speaking to civic groups and assist with developing policy. They also use The Rig to hand out after school, visit with friends and/or work on homework, watch movies during The Rig’s weekly movie night and listen to student bands during open mic.

Bernardo submitted an essay about The Rig to Youth MOVE Maine and was awarded its “Shift Your Mind, Drive Your Dreams,” scholarship to attend the Peer Leadership Conference. As Bernardo stated in his essay, “It doesn’t matter who you are, your opinion on things are important.” He also said “Kids should get involved in their community because before they know it they will be running it when they are adults.”

Bernardo will bring back what he has learned and share his ideas during November’s Rig Round Table, a forum for members of The Rig to welcome guests from the community and work on various aspects of The Rig’s governance.