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ANCHORAGE - A children's advocacy group has named Anchorage as the top spot for young people nationwide.
America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth named Anchorage the nation's top "100 Best Communities for Young People." The group launched a national competition this year to identify communities large and small committed to young people. The announcement was made Monday.
Communities were judged on whether they had five critical elements: caring adults who were actively involved in youths' lives; safe places in which to learn and grow; a healthy start toward adulthood; an effective education that builds marketable skills; and opportunities to help others.
Anchorage earned the honor partly because of its Youth Development Coalition, a partnership of more than 30 different youth-serving groups, including United Way and the Anchorage School District, according to the city.
Claire Choi, 17, a senior at Bartlett High School, helped write the application for the award. She said Anchorage offers many opportunities for young people to be involved with a close-knit community, including places to go and programs to participate in, where youth are cared for by encouraging adults.
Youth here also have their own ski area, and recreation centers spread around the city, she said.
Choi said Anchorage still needs a skate park and a place for budding musicians to develop their skills, perhaps a concert hall. But the city's Youth Advisory Commission is raising funds for these causes, and local government listens to them, said Choi, the commission's vice chairwoman.
Mayor Mark Begich said in a press release that the city is "committed to making sure our youth grow up healthy and well-educated, and we'll continue to stay focused on that goal."
America's Promise founding chairman, General Colin Powell, launched the competition in May.
The purpose was "to appeal to America's competitive spirit to encourage communities to become great places to grow up," said Marguerite W. Sallee, president and CEO of America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth, in a news release.
The city, working with Anchorage's Promise, the Boys and Girls Club, the Anchorage Youth Development Coalition and other groups, applied. A panel of 17, ranging from youth to business leaders, spent six weeks narrowing down the list of about 700 applications down to an unranked list of 100.
The winners will be honored Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C. A full list of winners can be found at http://www.americaspromise.org.