New West girl featured in tween magazine

Emily Luu won her way into Discovery Girls in a cross-continent contest

Emily Luu has a passion for dance, loves hanging out with her friends and enjoys playing pranks on her dad.

Which pretty much makes her a regular 10-year-old girl.

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The small girl with the big smile also happens to be one of 36 girls from across North America chosen to be featured in a magazine for tweens, Discovery Girls. Emily is one of six featured girls in the April/May edition of the magazine, which is out now.

Emily, a Grade 5 student at Herbert Spencer Elementary, is taking time out after school on a Friday afternoon, before heading off to dance class, to chat enthusiastically about the experience.

She won the chance to be featured when the magazine ran a contest last year, asking girls to fill out a questionnaire about issues of concern to tweens.

"It took me a long time to finish the questionnaire," Emily recalls.

She figured it was worth it, though, because she's been a fan of the magazine since discovering it at the public library.

"I started to read it and I couldn't stop," she says.

She points out there aren't a lot of magazines for girls her age - those too old for My Little Pony Magazine and too young for Teen Vogue and its ilk. She likes Discovery Girls, she says, because it covers real issues from the perspective of real girls - with girls sharing things like their Worst Day Ever and their most embarrassing moments.

"It makes me feel a little bit happier about myself when I see I'm not the only one that makes these weird mistakes," she says with a smile.

Her questionnaire was chosen, according to the magazine, because her responses "demonstrated the compassion, determination and enthusiasm of Discovery Girls, and her perspectives and attitudes about issues facing today's tweens were identified as a source of help and encouragement to girls her age."

Being picked meant Emily got to fly to San Francisco to take part in a leadership summit, where the girls gathered to take part in workshops and talks, as well as activities - she loved the mini golf and bumper boats - and photo shoots.

"My favourite part was meeting all the girls and having the experience to go there," she says with a grin.

The workshops were good, she says, covering the kinds of things that girls her age think about.

"We talked a lot about bullying and how to make your mark on the world," she says.

As to how she plans to make her mark on the world, she quotes from one of her favourite movies, Smurfs 2: "It doesn't matter where you come from, it only matters who you choose to be."

She's shy, she says, not as brave as some of the other girls who turned up at the leadership summit - so she's choosing to be more confident.

She's very involved in life at her school and outside of it - she studies competitive tap, hip hop and ballet at Boswell Dance, and she sings with her school choir and in Vivo Children's Choir.

She says she's already pretty comfortable with who she is.

" If I were to change, I probably wouldn't have the same friends that I do," she points out. "All my friends are amazing just the way they are."

But she says the summit helped her be even more comfortable with herself.

"I always knew to be yourself, but I didn't feel that confident. Now I'm way more confident," she says.

Her dad, Vinson Luu, agrees, saying with a smile that Emily is just a bit more of a "goofball" since she had the Discovery Girls experience.

Her whole family went along for the trip to San Francisco, so he was able to see what a positive experience the summit was for Emily.

"It was just really nice with this magazine that they allowed the girls to be themselves," he says. "They were celebrating their differences and how each of them being different contributed to making everything better."

And he's been happy that Emily is so keen on reading a magazine like Discovery Girls.

"It's about things that tween girls go through rather than the commercial and marketing things," he says. "It's a magazine we're proud that she reads."

If you're interested in finding out more about the magazine - and about Emily's starring role in the April/May issue - check out www.discoverygirls.com for more about the magazine and the summit. You can also find the magazine on newsstands in the usual places - grocery and drug stores - and at the public library.

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