Civic sites targeting young people

Boston youngsters who want to mine the city's rich educational, cultural and athletic programs can now tap the Internet for a one-stop resource.

The city's Boston Youth Zone site, launched Nov. 2, contains information about sports leagues, museums, art, music and events. There's also information on community centers, camps, employment opportunities, public safety and health programs.

"The city itself offers an overwhelming number of programs," said Margaret Wall, the Web services project director for the city's information services department. "The goal of the Web site is to promote all opportunities for youth in the city."

She said the site was the brainchild of Mayor Thomas Menino, who was frustrated about hearing from youngsters that there's nothing to do in Boston. It took about six months to develop the site, at a cost of about $50,000.

Before the site was launched, she said kids and their parents had to call different city agencies to find out about programs or events. The searchable database contains about 1,500 city agencies and organizations.

Within the Boston Youth Zone site is a section called teenzone, which contains material and information created by teens, for teens. Teenagers can share artwork, essays, movie reviews and experiences with their peers.

Wall said the city will partner with schools to promote the site and launch a media campaign to publicize it. She said the site is the first of its kind to be created by a city.

In New Jersey, the state's information technology and education departments recently unveiled a Web site designed to teach fourth-grade students about the state's history, an educational requirement mandated under state law. The site, called Professor Foulkii's Cartoon History of New Jersey, is intended to enhance school lessons about state history, folklore and the legislative process in an entertaining manner. It contains colorful animation and interactive games presented by a cartoon character, Professor Foulkii, named for a dinosaur that once roamed New Jersey.

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