A youth magazine that wrestles with deep issues

Elizabeth Dabney Hochman ’85 (pictured in 2012) with a former KidSpirit intern and a member of the editorial board.
Elizabeth Dabney Hochman ’85 (pictured in 2012) with a former KidSpirit intern and a member of the editorial board.
Elizabeth Stuart/Deseret News

RÉSUMÉ Founding editor of KidSpirit. Opera singer. Master’s in music from the Mannes College of Music. Majored in art history.

Life’s big questions Elizabeth Dabney Hochman ’85 is an opera singer with 20 years’ experience. But she spends most of her time working with kids. About 10 years ago, the mother of two noticed that there weren’t many media outlets for middle-school students to explore what she calls “life’s big questions.” So she set out to create a space in which they could “start to feel a better sense of who they are and what matters to them.” She formed a nonprofit foundation with a board of directors; among its members are her husband, Jonathan Hochman ’84, and several other Princeton alumni. In 2008, Hochman published the first issue of KidSpirit, a magazine for kids created by kids.

For teens by teens Hochman wanted the magazine to be an interactive environment for adolescents to discuss issues such as ethics, morality, and spirituality. Once a month in New York City she meets with an editorial board of about 20 boys and girls of different backgrounds, ages 11 to 17. As founding editor and publisher, Hochman facilitates a discussion to choose a theme for each issue. Recent issues have focused on money, God, beauty, and gender. Young people from around the world create the content, which has included essays on the portrayal of men on television, poems about what happens to us after death, and paintings of nature’s beauty.

A catalyst for growth KidSpirit has evolved into an online publication and website with one compilation issue printed each year. (KidSpirit does not disclose the number of unique visitors to the website.) There are now six satellite editorial boards — all composed of students — and two more forming. “It’s very cool to be able to provide something that can be a catalyst for huge growth for people discovering who they are,” says Hochman.