“Although no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.” This quote was written by Carl Bard and when I came across these words, they just spoke deeply to my soul. I was placed in the foster care system at 6 months old and was adopted when I was 3 years old along with my 6-year-old brother and 2-year-old sister. Life in the foster system was challenging as we went through several homes throughout the years before finding our forever home. We were adopted by an amazing couple who already had one 10-year-old boy. They actually asked the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) for one boy between the ages of 6 to 8. They were not expecting CAS to present them with 3 children. When they met us, they fell in love and adopted us all; and the rest is history
My journey hasn’t been easy, but it has made me who I am today. Through the years, I have been called many names: stupid, annoying, dumb blonde, and many other names. We talk all the time about bullying and the power of words. Over the years, these names had a toll on me and on how I saw myself. I felt unlovable. Luckily, the person I am today is not the same person I was a year ago. A friend came into my life that taught me what it feels like to be loved unconditionally and accepted for who I am, with my weaknesses, quirks, and beauty. My parents did love me, but it is not the same as when someone from outside your family, accepts you and loves you.
In the last 12 months, I have learned how important it is to love ourselves first so that we can learn to accept love and give love to others. A lot of teenagers seek love and acceptance in all the wrong places. There are so many pressures in high school to fit in. I have decided to promote the idea that we were not born to fit in, we were born to stand out. We are all created unique, with our own kind of beautiful. Today, I am a confident young woman trying to make a change and make a difference in my community. My mom always says that words can build people up or destroy them. I chose to build and love people, as well as loving myself.
As I registered and prepared for regional competition for Miss Teenage Canada, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love meeting people and making new friends. The best part of the competition for me is hanging out with all the contestants during rehearsals and during breaks and learning about them. The night of the competition, as I stood and listened to the names of the finalists being called, I was nervous. Fear and doubt returned again. Life is always about a battle of the mind between fear and faith. I was thrilled when my name was announced and somewhat couldn’t believe it.
During the next 12 months, I have a lot of goals I want to accomplish as Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018. I want to work with CAS to raise the awareness of the need for foster and adoptive homes. I was given a second chance at life and I believe every child, deserves a second chance at a better future. I also want to speak to teens and teach them the importance of loving ourselves first, before we can love other people. We also need to believe in ourselves and have faith and trust that with determination and a positive attitude, we can build a better future and change lives, our community and eventually impact the world one person at a time.
I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of engagements as Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018 this past weekend. The first meeting I had, after receiving my sash was with the public relations manager of CAS to brainstorm ideas on how we can raise awareness of the needs of children in CAS’s care.
Then, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Taste of Tecumseh for the Optimist Club. It was a great weekend. It is an opportunity for the Optimist to raise funds which will then go back into the community, especially on projects focused on children. I was able to get a picture with Tecumseh Mayor, Gary McNamara who came to support the event.
I look forward to being able to serve the community of the Town of Tecumseh, Essex County, and Southwestern Ontario in making a difference in people’s lives. This coming weekend is shaping up to be a busy weekend with several appearances already booked.
I am excited for what the future holds and for the journey I am on. I am happy to share this journey with you and hope you will check back to see all the great things that can happen when people work together, when we love ourselves, and when we serve our neighbours with sincere hearts.