MASON — A Mason teenager will be representing the State of West Virginia in Washington, D.C. next week as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador.
Nolan Pierce, son of Randy and Beth Pierce, was selected as one of 51 youth ambassadors by Youth Service America (YSA) and the Festival of Children Foundation.
Pierce will now receive funding and training for the statewide initiative he submitted, “West Virginia Teens for Children.” The project will provide clothing and hygiene items to children who attend the West Virginia Governor’s Youth Opportunities Camps (YOC), held at Camp Horseshoe.
Pierce has served as a camp mentor at YOC, and said he was concerned when he saw how much the kids attending didn’t have. Noting some children arrived at the weeklong camp with only the clothes they had on, his project will stock a free store at the camp, where participants can “shop” for basics like underwear, socks, shorts and t-shirts, as well as personal hygiene items.
YOC is free to low-income children and provides education to them in the areas of exercise, hygiene, healthy eating and a clean environment. Another area of concern expressed by Pierce is that even though the camp is free for the children, they must find their own transportation to Camp Horseshoe.
While in Washington from Sept. 13th through 16th, Pierce will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The two will discuss ways to promote Pierce’s project statewide over the next several months, until the items are delivered to Camp Horseshoe in April 2016.
The Washington trip also coincides with National Child Awareness Month, which is September.
According to a press release by the sponsoring organizations, Pierce was selected through a competitive application process, and chosen based on the quality of his project proposal and its potential to create large-scale change on behalf of young people in West Virginia.
Pierce said in addition to the application process and training session in Washington, he will participate in monthly webinar sessions. He will receive a $1,000 grant to be used on his project, and will launch a statewide campaign challenging others to contribute items to YOC.
Pierce is a senior at Wahama High School, where he is class vice president. He participates in football, basketball and track.
A six-year member of the Bend Area Youth Leadership Association, Pierce has participated in the West Virginia Youth Leadership Summit and Youth in Government, as well as being a camp mentor at YOC. Employed by the Town of New Haven for the past several summers as a lifeguard, Pierce is a lifelong member of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, where he serves as a worship leader.
Pierce will be contacting various groups and organizations throughout the state in the coming months in hopes of garnering support for his project. He will also have a designated Facebook page in the near future.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and lives in Mason County.