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Come On, Get Real

New Teen Magazine Debuts in City

Teens can find 40 ways to “get a life,” learn about different web sites and read an interview with Chamique Holdsclaw. And they can read it all in the first issue of Get Real.

The magazine is the brain child of the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy and was produced in late Fall with city funding. ACAP is a collaborative effort among city agencies and nonprofit organizations that work with young people.

“Our goal is to find a variety of ways to reach teenagers through a variety of mediums,” said Lisa Oviatt, the director of the Office On Women, out of which ACAP is coordinated. “The magazine has a longer life span than a commercial because teens will read it, put it down and pick it up again if they see something that they might like to know more about later.”

The first issue features an interview with Washington Mystic star, Chamique Holdsclaw. “We were looking for a young role model who appeals to both boys and girls,” Oviatt said. “Someone that they can really relate to and look up to. Some of the kids got an opportunity to sit down with Chamique and interview her for the magazine.”

ACAP BEGAN three years ago as a unified way to reduce the city’s teen pregnancy rate. While some decrease has been seen, Alexandria continues to have the highest teen pregnancy rate of any jurisdiction in Northern Virginia. One of the magazine’s goals is to offer sex, drug, alcohol and sex-free activities to teens.

“Anybody who has a teenager has heard the words “I’m bored” more times than they can count,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. He was the driving force behind ACAP’s creation. “The “40 ways to get a life” feature is my favorite part of the magazine. Some of them, of course, I had thought about but others were new to me. None of these things cost very much and most of them are accessible by public transportation.”

For instance: go bowling at Bowl America; attend one of Alexandria’s many festivals; go to Youth Night at one of the city’s recreation centers; ring in the New Year at First Night and play ultimate Frisbee. None of the activities on the list costs more than $25 and many of them are under $10. “We know that we need to find more positive activities for teens and ACAP is looking at that,” Donley said. “But this list indicates to me that there are already a lot of things around that maybe the kids just haven’t thought about.”

THE MAGAZINE is being distributed through the city’s recreation centers, the Department of Human Services and through ACAP’s member agencies. The target audience is 12 to 18-year-olds, with an emphasis on the younger adolescents within that group. “We really want to reach these young people when they are in middle school because that is when they are making decisions about drugs and alcohol and sexual activity,” Oviatt said. “We believe that the magazine has information for all of the ages but we understand that the younger kids are more likely to read it.”

Get Real was designed by young people as well as by an ACAP committee and a media consultant. “We had an advisory group of teens and we didn’t really make any decision about the magazine without talking to that group,” Oviatt said. “If we want to reach kids we have to talk to them about what they like and what they will respond to.”

ACAP plans to produce the magazine twice a year, once in the fall and once in the late spring. “We want it to be available as they leave school for the summer and have lots of free time on their hands and as they return to school and start a new year,” Oviatt said.