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Staff Writer
Columbus Parent, the first-ever Latina-themed virtual world for tween girls is registering 100,000 users for its Beta trial. Those first 100,000 people to register for the Beta trial will receive a Hip V.I.P. membership as a reward, as well as unique online badges to show that they are the pioneers to the world.

In, registered members follow the antics of the adventurous Hip Chicas -- five Latina characters from different parts of the U.S. who are in a popular band on tour. Their personal mission while on tour is to Help Improve the Planet [HIP] at each stop. Hip Chicas was developed to be an empowering brand option for tween girls; it's smart, appropriate, hip and fun.

"We felt that there was a need for content that kids would like and parents would approve of," stated the creator of the Hip Chicas brand, Lazaro Fuentes. "It's as if somewhere along the line, someone decided that being hip meant that girls had to dress or act inappropriately, or had to fit into a specific mold and that their only interests are picking hair colors or shopping for clothes. They are far more than that and are looking for content that gets them; a higher level of engagement. These are kids that want to save the world, be in a band and start a blog all in one day."

Rooted in the cultures of the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, Latinos, connects users with the languages, places and the diversity of that group. The site extends to tweens the introduction to Latin culture that many received as preschoolers watching cartoons like Dora the Explorer, the animated TV series that kicked it all off in the year 2000 and is the most-watched preschool cartoon ever. takes that introduction much further and updates it for a tween market that is digitally saavy, gives it a real mission to Help Improve the Planet and is set in actual, albeit fantastical, places. The Hip Chicas brand is the logical next step for kids.

The creators felt that as kids grow up their awareness and relationship to these places becomes real, so they chose real places. For some it will be an exploration of where they're from and who they are. For others it will be a window on wondrous places in our country and our world with cool pyramids, beaches, old island forts, skyscrapers or vast rainforests; another big differentiation from the majority of virtual worlds and content today. Registered members will be able to navigate from place to place using an interactive map of North and South America and visit well-known spots in places like Mexico, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, New York, Cuba, Miami Beach, the Amazon or the Everglades and many others.

Kids will be able to choose between a moderated open chat and canned multi-lingual chat, which features a very special "Chat Translator" that allows members to use multiple languages to communicate with each other in real time. For example, if a user speaks English, their words appear in both English and Spanish and vice versa. If they prefer to chat in Spanish, Portuguese or French their chat appears in their own language with the English translation below, making English the default language, but recognizing that there are many people who like, prefer or can only speak in Spanish, Portuguese or French. is a safe and entertaining destination for children who have moved on from pre-school play and crave something more substantial (yet hip) in their online play. Members will have a key role in improving the spaces and places in the world as part of its greater mission to Help Improve the Planet. Beyond that, taps the creative power of its users by empowering them to be strong, to be smart and to be hip.

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