Stewiacke girl heading to tween summit in California

‘The magazine is just so awesome; it’s better than any other magazine I’ve read for girls’

STEWIACKE – Marika Schenkels beams when asked about her plans for later this month.

Topics:  Discovery Girls Tween Summit , Colchester Academy , California , Stewiacke , United States

The 12-year-old Stewiacke girl is one of 36 girls – 30 from the United States and six from Canada – heading to California for a four-day tween summit with Discovery Girls.

“I’m so excited,” said Marika, her bright red hair pulled back off her faces, her smile showing braces on her teeth. “I really wasn’t expecting it.”

A few months ago, Marika noticed a Discovery Girls magazine on the shelf at a physiotherapist’s office, but she didn’t have the time to stop and read it. The next time she was in the office, she picked it up and hasn’t really put it down since.

“I saw in the magazine that they pick 12 girls from each state to go to this summit. They always look like they’re having fun – they’re always smiling,” she said. “They get to meet so many new girls. It sounded cool. I wanted to apply because I thought this would be my last chance – I had just turned 12.”

Participants at the summit, which runs July 20 to 23 in the San Francisco Bay Area, will be featured in a future issue of the magazine, which reaches a readership of about one million. Marika is the only girl from Nova Scotia to attend this summit. It recently changed its criteria for the summit, now allowing more than just girls from the United States. There were 8,000 applicants for the summit.

The magazine, which was launched 13 years ago, is created by and for girls the ages eight and up. It focuses on real girls – they write the articles, suggest story ideas and shape every aspect of the bi-monthly magazine.

“Reading through it, I thought it was so awesome,” Marika said of the magazine she was allowed to take home. “There was one especially interesting article called ‘Mean Brothers.’ I loved it – I have two (older) brothers.”

Filling out her application form of eight pages, Marika said it was a little difficult.

“I had to answer questions on things such as my dreams, and inspiring quote and my personality traits. It was really hard because I wanted it to sounds like my personality, but that’s hard to do in writing.”

It was late May when Marika’s mother, Luanne, received an email from Discovery Girls telling her they had “exciting news” about her daughter.

[Stewiacke’s Marika Schenkels flips through an issue of Discovery Girls, a magazine created by and for girls aged eight and up. Marika is one of 36 girls from the United States and Canada chosen to attend a tween summit with the magazine in California later this month.] [Twelve-year-old Marika Schenkels shows off one of her favourite articles in the magazine Discovery Girls - an article about mean brothers.] View the gallery

“I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” Marika said about when she applied. “The magazine is just so awesome; it’s better than any other magazine I’ve read for girls.

“There’s tons of reader involvement. I think it would be a great opportunity.”

Marika said she’s involved in anti-bullying at her school – South Colchester Academy – and hopes to learn new strategies and technology while at the summit.

“But there’s a lot of girl power kind of things there, too,” she said. “I’ve heard that a lot of girls are insecure about themselves, so it would be nice to empower girls around here.”

Since learning she was selected for the summit, Marika has been working on “homework.”

“There’s this thing called ‘The Great Debate’ and I’m researching on whether there’s too much pressure on girls to have a crush, and cafeterias – should they only serve healthy foods,” she said. “The magazine also has a segment called ‘My Worst Day,’ where girls tell about their struggle and how they got through it. It’s to show girls that they are not alone.”

Twitter: @TDNRaissa



Name: Marika Schenkels

Age: 12

Lives: Stewiacke

Family: dad, Frank; mom, Luanne; two brothers – Aiden, 17, and Jared, 16 – all of whom have red hair

Pets: dog and cat

Grade: starting Grade 8 at South Colchester Academy

Hobbies: started playing piano at the age of four; likes acting, Highland dancing, tennis, curling, swimming, skiing, volleyball, fantasy and historical fiction books

Favourite subjects at school: a toss up between math, science and French.

Favourite quote she included in her Discovery Girls Tween Summit application: William Shakespeare’s ‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.’ “It implies to never give up, that our greatness is in ourselves. We just need to find it.”