LEWISTON — “We’re very happy so many came out to join us today and to hear why we love our All-America City of Lewiston,” said Lewiston Youth Advisory Council Chair Matt Beauparlant as he kicked off the group’s first-ever youth summit. The theme was “Your Aspirations Are Your Possibilities.”
Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert Sr. also welcomed the youth, and LYAC City Council Liaison John Butler was also on hand.
Students from Lewiston High School, Edward Little High School, St. Dom’s, Lewiston Middle School and Trinity Catholic attended the summit.
Andrew Harris, L/A Arts Director, who led an “Arts: Express Yourself” workshop, said, “This is just the type of thing we need to showcase in our community.”
Other workshops focused on money management, college aspirations, the dangers of alcohol and safe dating, with information on safety tips for MySpace and Facebook. In addition to Harris, workshop leaders were Joan Macri, associate director of Learning Works and coordinator of early college for College for ME-Androscoggin; Jackie Wiegleb of Money Management International; Bridget McAlonan, Sexual Assault Crisis Center educator; and St. Dom’s graduate, Mike, who shared his story of being an alcoholic and how his choices negatively impacted his life.
An “Inspired to be Great” interactive keynote address was provided by motivational speaker John Jenkins, and LYAC debuted its “Lewiston In the Eyes of Youth” DVD. Chamber President Chip Morrison and Sarah Mayberry of the Young Professionals of Lewiston/Auburn also provided a “then and now” LA It’s Happening Here PowerPoint.
The youth council’s 2007 film “Smashed” was also shown with Lewiston Police Officer Tom Murphy distributing information on underage drinking. Cynthia Nicholas of the YWCA, also led a Zumba routine.
Youth evaluations came in strong for the first summit with comments such as “There is a lot more in Lewiston than I thought,” “a lot of people get accepted to local colleges,” “there’s a lot of culture in Lewiston” and “there are a lot of opportunities in Lewiston.”
Informational booths present for the event included the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, Androscoggin Head Start and Child Care, Auburn/Lewiston Rotary, Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, Outright, City of Lewiston, Lewiston Fire Department, Lewiston Police Department, Museum L/A, Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Lewiston School-Based Health Centers, Lewiston Youth Advisory Council and Stanton Bird Club.
The summit was sponsored by the Lewiston Firefighters Association and planned by the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council consisting of Matt Beauparlant, Holly Lavorgna, Kenzi Masselli, Clarissa Smith, Hanan Ahmed, Jama Ahmed, Devin Bergeron, Kevin Costello, Stephanie Costello, Allie Lewandowski, Tori White and Marissa Zanoni.