Two years of hard work by a group of local youngsters came to fruition this past week with the launch of KidSpirit, a new magazine published in Brooklyn that explores spiritual issues among young people.
Produced by and for 11- to 15-year-olds, the quarterly — which retails for $7.50 — is the first spirituality magazine catered to this age group.
All of the editorial board and most of the contributors hail from New York City, but an aggressive outreach effort, largely via the Internet, has yielded submissions from across the country.
With an initial circulation of 5,000, the magazine is available in 20 locations throughout New York City, as well as locations in 30 states.
It is the brainchild of Brooklyn Heights resident and parent Elizabeth Dabney Hochman, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. Dabney Hochman said she wanted to “do something for an age group that’s bombarded with a culture that’s so materialistic. It’s important that we give them the tools to become fulfilled internally.
“In a post 9-11 world, I wanted to encourage kids to be comfortable with differences between people. This is the age at which they learn and embrace those values, when they’re still young enough to be truly open-minded,” she continued.
The magazine tackles the general questions of spirituality, including the biggest and most obvious one: what is spirituality?
According to editorial board member Anna Friedman, 14, there are as many answers to that question as there are people in the world.
“Spirituality is me: it’s really who I am. My spirituality is my development, in terms of thinking about the many aspects and meaning of spirituality,” she said.
Dabney Hochman stressed that the magazine is catered to people of all beliefs, including those whose belief is non-belief in God.
“We don’t talk about doctrine, we talk about personal experience. It’s not so much what you believe, but your experience of something beyond yourself. For some people it’s about God and some people it’s not. We embrace both possibilities,” she said.
Each issue revolves around a theme. For the premiere issue, that theme was “Roots of Spirit,” which lent itself to an exploration of the connection between spirituality and environmental awareness.
The issue delved into the question from a variety of approaches: a poem about Central Park, a review of a book about famous naturalist writer Henry David Thoreau, and a survey exploring kids’ attitudes about the environmental crisis.
Dabney Hochman thinks the target readers will better enjoy and absorb material produced by people their own age.
“It has a younger feel, it’s more fresh. It doesn’t feel like it’s coming through a mouthpiece or from a particular point of view,” she said.
Susan Yassky, a member of the editorial board, said the magazine fills a niche by appealing to people coming to the age where they contemplate these questions.
“The questions we tackle in the magazine pertain to kids – they’re really things that I and a lot of people my age think about,” she said.
To subscribe to KidSpirit, go to www.kidspi
Submissions are always welcome via the company’s website (www.kidspi
A 501(c)(3) organization, KidSpirit relies on contributions from individuals. Contributions can be made on the web or by mail.