Thorold girl attends tween magazine summit, photo shoot in California

THOROLD - Ava Naphin would have never thought she’d be gracing the cover of a magazine at just 11-years-old, but she’ll soon be doing just that.

Naphin, a Thorold resident, recently returned from San Francisco, Calif., where she was one of 36 girls to attend a summit and photo shoot put on by the Bay Area-based Discovery Girls Magazine – a bimonthly tween publication she subscribes to.

She will appear with fellow models her age on the cover of the October-November issue in 2014 and will also have her profile featured inside the magazine.

“It will be exciting to see myself in a magazine and I would have never dreamed I could actually do it,” said Naphin, who’s heading into Grade 6 at Monsignor Clancy School in Thorold. “I’m really anticipating the day it’s actually going to happen.”

Discovery Girls, which focuses on helping young girls grow, build relationships and self-confidence, uses everyday girls from across North America to model for the cover and inside pages of the magazine.

“Right from the start I knew girls needed to be involved in every aspect of the magazine’s creation,” said Catherine Lee, Discovery Girls CEO, who started the magazine a decade ago. “Not only would they generate ideas for the articles, but they would also be our cover girls and fashion models.”

This year, subscribers from all over were eligible fill out an extensive online application form and questionnaire, as well as submit some self-portraits, before being selected to attend the all-expenses paid summit in late-July.

“That way, we have girls from all over the world contributing to the magazine,” Lee said. “They’d be each other’s role models and make Discovery Girls truly a magazine by girls, for girls.”

At the summit, Naphin stayed with the selected girls – and their parents – in a youth hostel along the California coast in Montara, just south of San Francisco. She stayed in a room with the group of girls that would be appearing in the same issue.

“We got to bond with the girls from our issue 24/7,” she said. “That was one of the best parts – getting to meet girls from all over.”

With them, she participated in several modeling and marketing shoots for the magazine. Her issue has a sleepover theme, so the cover shoot had the girls at a fake sleepover dressed in nighttime attire. Naphin’s profile will also be featured in the issue.

“For our profile shots, we got to bring in and wear whatever we wanted, but for the cover shots, they picked out our outfits,” Naphin said. “The whole experience was pretty cool.”

Other activities at the summit included dancing, games, self-esteem building exercises and group discussions.

Naphin said she particularly enjoyed the discussions, which were “really helpful” and eye opening.

“We talked about some of the issues girls our age deal with,” Naphin explained. “We talked about bullying and if we’ve ever been bullied before.

“The girls in my issue were all in one room talking together and it was really cool to hear stories and get advice from other girls your age that are from different places.”

Not to mention, they got to hangout in California – somewhere Naphin and her family had never been before.

“It’s a great place,” she said. “I’d definitely go back if I had the choice.”

Naphin’s mother, Tricia, also thoroughly enjoyed the trip and praised the work Discovery Girls magazine has been doing.

“It was such a neat, hands-on experience,” she said of the summit. “The CEO of the magazine was there everyday and really got to know the girls.

“The magazine is unbelievable because it’s not all about beauty and fashion – some of it is – but for the most part, it’s really realistic about self-esteem, puberty, how to handle problems with friends – it’s really down to earth and I thought that’s exactly how I’d want my daughter to be.”

And the young Naphin has certainly learned from the experience. She knows that, with some persistence, confidence and respect for others, anything can be achieved.

“If you want to do something, you should never think you can’t do it just because you might not be as smart or pretty as some people might be,” the 11-year-old said. “You should always try – not matter how smart or kind or pretty you are.”

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