MEXICO — Two local women are using the social networking site Facebook to reach River Valley area teens and help them pioneer their own youth-centered organization at the Mexico Recreation Center.
Rebecca Skibitsky of Dixfield and Cindrie Cormier of Rumford said Wednesday that they'd also like to help the teens start a performing arts business to help fund efforts of the teen center.
“We're trying to create a youth group that will be action-oriented and we want to find kids who want a voice in their community,” Skibitsky said.
“I want it to create a youth action network where kids will identify the things in a community that they want to change.”
To make the center sustainable, they decided to put together a performing arts conservatory idea where teens can gather in groups and form a community theater that can perform in town or at the rec center.
“The most important thing is that I don't want this to be the kind of a business that closes at 7 o'clock every evening,” Skibitsky said.
“I want us to be doing these things during those peak times that kids will be more likely to be involved in deviant behavior, so the kids will have an option of saying, 'Well I was actually planning on attending play practice on Saturday night at 8, so I'm not going to make it to the party.'”
Skibitsky and Cormier are convening an organizational meeting from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 18, in the Teen Center or basement room of the recreation center.
Cormier, a 1983 graduate of Mountain Valley High School, said a lot of money is spent on educating children, but not much spent on providing constructive activities in the evening when most teens want to get active, especially on Fridays and weekends.
“We're trying to make things available for kids where they really need things to do,” Cormier said.
“There's nothing in the community for them to do when they want to get active at night,” Skibitsky said.
She said she's tried to get teens to go to the Greater Rumford Community Center, but said it's closed on evenings, on Fridays and weekends.
Skibitsky, a Dirigo High School graduate, said she and Cormier had been brainstorming the idea for a long time and really wanted to start it up in Dixfield's Opera House instead of the Mexico center.
“We put a bid on it over the summer and we had intended to buy that and start this whole thing there, but that fell through,” she said. “So we may revisit it again, we'll see.”
The pair met through their husbands who are U.S. Postal Service mail carriers in Rumford, and then both women attended a River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition conference on underage alcohol prevention.
Cormier said Friday's meeting is their second such gathering.
“We had our first meeting last week and we didn't have any kids show up, so we're hoping for some kids this week, that's why we've been pushing it on Facebook,” Cormier said.
Right now, it's geared toward teens, but Cormier said she hopes it will eventually encompass younger children. They're also want to get adults interacting with the youth as role models.
“We would love to see how it grows, because we'd love to see a lot of ages in there and we'd like to see the older kids doing wonderful things with the younger kids, helping them,” Cormier said