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Urging to find the answers


The team who put Urge on the net

You’re spinning out; questions about sex, drugs and relationships are are constantly eating away at you but you don’t want to talk to about it - where do you go?

Now there is a web site specifically for New Zealand teenagers that helps answer some of these questions. Urge is aimed at 15-18 year olds and tackles a range of subjects from stress and grief to drugs and alcohol and realtionships, abuse and sexual orientation.

Twelve Wellington High School students worked alongside the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC), Family Planning, the Health Sponsorhip Council, the Mental Health Foundation and the Ministries of Youth Affairs and Health to design the site.

Suzanne Jones ALAC Information Services Manager said the agencies wanted to cover certain topics such as drugs, alchol and sex, but students chose the content and the ways it would be presented: “The group had imput right from the beginning, from chosing the urban grunge look to selection the of name.”

Jones said student imput was vital. “It’s their words for their peer group. It’s pointless doing it any other way. Its about providing them with the means to make informed decisions.” Wellington High School student Daksha Sikha agreed: “The best part is that, because we've played a part in deciding what goes into the site, it's not just a bunch of adults saying don't do this or this is bad”.

Urge covers everything from alcohol and drugs, to stress and grief, and relationships and sexual orientation. The information is presented in a straightforward manner with out all the “fluff”. Visitors to the sight can “tag messages”, write reviews and add other art work. “It’s also about celebrating art work and allows teenagers to express themselves,” said Jones.

It is early days for the site and if it goes well there are plans to add more content and interactive components.

The concept is based on Australian web site Reachout which was set up to help reduce teen suicide. Up to 4000 visitors a day go to the Reachout site. There are plans to add more content and interactive component and it is hoped Urge will be as successful as Reachout.

By Rebecca Thomson

Urge can be found at www.urge.co.nz

 

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