By Cathy Carter
Young people often feel disconnected from their community. A project designed to address that issue is underway in Alexandria, Virginia.
It's called youth mapping. Teams of teenagers are conducting interviews in Alexandria's West End to find out what resources and opportunities exist for city teens. The mappers are also asking businesses if they have any concerns about youth substance abuse or gang activity.
Noraine Buttar is the coordinator for the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria. She says if you want to change people's perceptions, you have to know what those perceptions are.
"So if a lot of these business owners feel that ya' know, the youth are out there, they're doing drugs, or they're getting pregnant, they're not very likely to hire them, whereas if we can change those perceptions, or if the perceptions are already positive, which is something we're trying to figure out, then we can use that information," she says.
Buttar says the data collected by the youth mappers will help Alexandria policy makers improves youth services in the city.