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Charlotte woman builds a magazine for girls, by girls

GirlStory is all about giving middle schoolers a voice.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Middle school is a notoriously tough time for young girls – but it can also be a time when many find their own voice. Now, a Charlotte-area woman is trying to give them a platform with a new magazine that the girls themselves are helping put together.

From major social justice issues to bullying and even just the comic adventures of a beloved dog, this magazine is about giving young girls a voice because so often they feel like they aren’t heard at all.

They are young girls with big ideas, and now a big platform.

12-year-old Marlee is one of the girls helping bring GirlStory to life.

"It's pretty amazing because not everyone focuses on what we think," she said. "We do care about what’s happening."

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GirlStory is the new digital magazine created for girls ages 10-14, featuring articles written by the girls themselves.

Cortney Donelson is the magazine's founder. She says her own 12-year-old daughter inspired the launch.

"But also it’s a passion project because I remember being aged 10-14," she said, "and it's not the easiest season of our lives, but I also understand girls this age have a lot to say and they don’t have the platform to say it. I wanted to provide that."

Marlee said she loves contributing. 

"I've written about racism and being confident about who you are," she said.

The girls also produce vlogs and work to engage and connect with their counterparts; girls from Charlotte and across the country submit articles to GirlStory. Adults also contribute their own articles meant to offer guidance and advice.

Maeve, who is 12 years old, even contributes a comic strip about her dog.

"It's really exciting, and then to see my comics on the website is really cool," she said.

Right now, GirlStory relies on volunteers to build out the magazine's content, but Donelson says she's hoping to turn a profit from it soon.

"That’s the goal right now," she said, noting the aim is to get sponsors and advertisers to help fund the magazine. Another main goal: to get what's on the web pages into printed pages girls can take with them because she believes every girl should be able to see what their peers are saying.

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"Our lofty goal is to have it in the backpacks of middle school girls all over the country," Donelson said. "Just to see the diversity of all the stories and poems that come through is really amazing to me."

If you have a middle school-aged girl at home or know one who might want to be a part of GirlStory, they can submit articles here.

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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