May 25, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Yes, the media can have a positive influence on kids! At least the Girl Scouts think so. The San Fernando Valley Girl Scout Council’s associate field director, Carol Cook, took one look at DreamWorks’ Shrek — in which a sassy princess befriends a kindly ogre — and proposed a movie tie-in with the ”Issues for Girl Scouts” program, which encourages girls to develop self-confidence and embrace diversity. ”The Girl Scouts are all about self-esteem, and Shrek‘s Princess Fiona is one tough chick,” says a DreamWorks spokeswoman of the Cameron Diaz-voiced character. To help spread the word, the studio sponsored a free screening in the San Fernando Valley, which drew a crowd of about 340, and its spokeswoman even made a prototype ”magic mirror” (modeled on one in the film), inscribed ”Mirror, mirror on the wall, why am I the fairest of them all?” to inspire the girls’ own self-affirming artwork. The reward for participating? Badges emblazoned ”Girls Are Great!” — apt for 21st-century Scouts, who are more likely to rock-climb than macrame. ”We’re not just about cookies and camping,” insists Cook, who also created activities based on DreamWorks’ 1998 film Paulie, about a girl and her parrot. ”This isn’t your grandmother’s Girl Scouts.”

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