New Belmont Digital Youth Magazine Showcases Creativity

When the pandemic started two years ago and schools were closed, Belmont resident Jane Rosenzweig wanted to give elementary and middle school children something creative to do, keep their minds sharp, help them improve their writing skills and allow them to express themselves artistically. She recruited parents Aaron Pikcilingis, Kara Sassone and Erica Zidel and together they created a website and began advertising on social media, asking for writing and art submissions from young people in Belmont. This is how the digital magazine “Belmont Times” was born.

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“During the pandemic, I was hoping that writing for the magazine would give kids something to look forward to when they didn’t have school and there was so much uncertainty,” Rosenzweig said.

For early issues, the parent group gave all child contributors in grades one through seven feedback and asked for revisions so students could have experience working with an editor.

“It was a great experience, but also very time-consuming for us, and it was clear that we weren’t going to be able to go on like this,” said Rosenzweig, who runs the Harvard Writing Center and the peer tutoring program.

She contacted the Belmont Youth Commission to see if the magazine could be a project where older children could work with younger children, and learned that they were already working with a group of students from Belmont High who created their own writing group, Belmont Youth Writers, offering free online writing lessons for children during the pandemic.

Rosenzwieg and the other parents presented “Belmont Times” to BHS seniors Anya Chen, Katelyn Liu, Diya Rana and Heidi Zhang in August 2020. Belmont Times now publishes six times a year.

Covers of the digital magazine 'Belmont Times' which started during the pandemic.

“I am so happy that the secondary students were able to continue. I love the idea of ​​our high school students mentoring younger children and encouraging them to share their stories with the community. I would love to see the community support them in any way possible,” Rosenzwieg said.

To recruit contributors, “Belmont Times” organizes a thematic competition for each edition, with prizes for the winners.

The Belmont Youth Commission recently became the umbrella organization for The Belmont Times to help the magazine continue to grow.

“We recruited sophomores to join our team so that after they graduate they can take over and continue the magazine. We hope the kids will have this resource for a long time,” Chan said.

They currently have around 300 subscribers. Registration is free but donations are welcome.

Amanda P. Whitten