BATH, Maine — For kids and teens who may be falling behind, the Waypoint program has been helping students in the RSU 1 school district to find their goals and confidence.

"The biggest impact we get from students is that Waypoint encourages critical thinking," Program Director Tim Wylie said. 

The program has been hosted for the past six years by Chewonki out of Wiscasset, thanks to grant funding from the Rural Futures Fund, to offer programs to rural communities. 

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To better serve the students in the local community, the program will now be partnering with the Midcoast Youth Center in Bath as its main location.

Through outdoor education, students are able to grow civic engagement and leadership skills, and expand their worldview. 

For the first couple of years involved in the program, students are also given a mentor to help them with getting involved locally. Later on in their high school careers, students then focus on what life may be like outside of schooling. 

Currently, the program mentors around 70 students, with this year being the first group to graduate since its start. 

"One of the things we see, particularly in these difficult times following COVID, is a real sense of despair and hopelessness with a lot of young people," center board member Larry Bartlett said. 

Now with the new partnership, the center is able to offer academic help, foster career aspirations, provide emotional and social assistance, and more. 

Former student and program member Santiago Zadiza has already seen the benefits of the program. After two years of being involved, he has now graduated from high school and is off to pursue a degree in engineering and architecture. 

"Now I get to choose the path that I'm going towards," Zadiza said. "[The program is] giving you a new perspective of what being a part of the community can actually offer."

The partnership will take full effect when the school year starts this September. 

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