Children of U.S. soldiers spearheaded a
project to launch a Web site that enables Army
youth around the world to communicate with
The "Real Teens Connected" Web
site, which went live this winter, is a
product of the Army's Child and Youth Services
Army Teen Panel, and is geared toward
teenagers 13-18 years old. The site offers a
variety of services to all Army-affiliated
youth, including news updates, relocation
information and stories written by Army kids.
"Kids want to connect with other kids
who are in like situations," Pamela
"PK" Tomlinson, deputy director of
the Army's Child and Youth Services, said.
"The idea was a Web site that would focus
on linking all teens, regardless of military
component, in a venue they are all familiar
with and like to use, which is the
A secure online chat room and bulletin
board will soon be added. "The reason we
wanted to incorporate a secure chat room and a
bulletin board is to create a safe site where
the teens can talk to each other," said
Donna McGrath, a sports and fitness program
manager for the U.S. Army Community and Family
Support Center and senior adult adviser for
the Army Teen Panel.
The Web site will allow the teens to
express "what it's like to be the child
of a military person, and just talk about
what's going on with them," McGrath said.
"It is absolutely youth led."
The idea for the Web site was spawned when
Army Teen Panel members came together and
realized they needed a way to better
communicate with each other. After determining
the Internet was the best method to do this,
they brought the idea to the adults, Tomlinson
After the adults agreed about the merits of
the project, the teens created a mission
statement and marketing plan and designed the
registration process, she said.
"It's a youth-generated,
adult-mentored process that the Army Teen
Panel undertook over a period of little less
than a year - to develop and come up with a
marketing plan and talk about goals and
objectives," Tomlinson said.
The panel is a group of teens who meet
twice a year to discuss concerns that affect
Army youth and work on projects to help
resolve these concerns. Members of the panel
come from active, Reserve and Guard families,
and each command and national region comprises
the membership, Tomlinson said.
The Real Teens Connected project had a
"soft launch" at this year's Army
Family Action Plan Conference in January, she
said, and will be rolled out with more fanfare
this month, which is designated as the Month
of the Military Child.
The Real Teens Connected Web page is hosted
through the Boys and Girls Club of America
YouthNet Web site, www.bgcayouthnet.org --
first-time users must register there before
accessing the Real Teen Connected page.
Returning users then just click on the
"Army Teens" menu tab and type their
user name and password to enter. Eligible
youths must also have an Army Knowledge Online
account that is sponsored through a parent or
The goal is to have 18,000 kids register on
the Web site over the next six months and to
eventually move the site up to the Defense
Department level, where children of all
services and DoD civilians can communicate,
"Needless to say, we're very excited
about this program," Tomlinson said.
"These teenagers are really phenomenal