By Cathy Carter
A team of Alexandria teenagers are spending their summer gathering information about their community. Sixteen-year-old Grand Roberson is at the Boston Market in Alexandria's West End. She's here to conduct an interview with the store's supervisor. It's all part of her job as one of the city's youth mappers.
"Would you be interested in providing Alexandria youth with employment opportunities, volunteer opportunities, internship opportunities, training, mentoring?," she asks.
The manager says yes, and Roberson checks a box on her survey. The data collected will identify what resources and opportunities exist for teenagers in Alexandria and how the city can improve youth services.
So, does Roberson think the project will help?
"I think it will, because it's like getting the word out that we need more activities," Roberson says.
The youth mappers are also asking people about their perceptions of Alexandria teenagers, and Roberson thinks some of the responses are unfair.
"They really underestimate us," she says. "They look down on us and we want to change that. That's our goal."
Once the project is completed, mappers will develop a presentation and make recommendations to public officials in Alexandria.