Wednesday, August 15th, was a very busy day for us. We had photo shoots and interviews. On days like this, you really don’t want to cook but want something fast and nutritious to eat. Sometimes, finding something nutritious can be a challenge. We were lucky enough to have had our meals provided by Clean Meals.

Clean Meals is a company in Toronto which prepares food in pre-packaged containers and delivers it to your home.  The benefits are: they use locally sourced ingredients, vegan options are available, proteins are hormone and antibiotics free, all meals are under 500 calories and they are easy to heat and serve. Client reviews on their website find their meals tasty, reasonably priced, fresh and made with healthy ingredients.

Clean Meals supports #ProjectEndHunger, which is a charitable program that provides meals to homeless. Their goal for 2017 was 500 and they reached 504. Their goal for 2018 is to provide 2,400 meals for the year. Individuals can partner up with them and give a $50 donation which will provide 10 meals for 10 people.

Eating healthy, especially on very busy days is difficult. Teenagers are the worse for that. I think we all need to stop and think about what it does to our body. Eating unhealthy makes our blood sugar go up and raises our chances of having a heart attack.

There are 3 reasons why we should eat clean:

  • Healthy food gives us the energy we need to do sports and to compete successfully; as well as, help us study and focus in class;
  • Maintains good cardiovascular health;
  • Lowers risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

If you want to learn more about Clean Meals go to www.cleanmeals.ca.

Thank you to Clean Meals for providing delicious meals for us and helping to keep our bodies fueled up.

Tia – Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018

 

 

 

Written by: Tia-Lynne Tagged with:,
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As I look back on the last 2 ½ months, I can’t believe how many experiences I have had and people I have met because of my title of Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018. The biggest blessing for me has been to be able to partner with Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Windsor- Essex County. When I approached CAS, they seemed to be confused and not sure what to do with me. They looked surprised that a young teen would take the initiative to want to partner with them. Emails started being sent around to various departments and ideas started to be brainstormed.

As I started having more meetings at CAS, with different individuals, the enthusiasm started to grow. As it turns out, when I approached CAS, they were in the process of creating an awareness campaign on the desperate need for foster and adoptive homes, which is what I want to focus on as my platform. The other interesting fact is that the CAS Youth Advisory Committee fundraises for ME to WE, which is the same organization that as a finalist for Miss Teenage Canada, I must fundraise for. I helped the CAS Youth Advisory Council with a lemonade stand and bake sale as a fundraiser for ME to WE. It seems that this is a match made in Heaven. My mom always says that everything happens for a reason and to trust God and how life unfolds.

As I started on this journey, I didn’t realize how public my life would become and the risks that I would be taking. On August 8th, I was interviewed by CTV-Windsor at the CAS building. The piece focused on the desperate need for foster homes in the Windsor-Essex community. We have 150 foster homes right now, with 150 service homes, and 477 kids in care.  CAS likes to only place 2 children in a home but right now, they are placing up to 4 children which is the maximum they are allowed. Because of the lack of foster homes, 42 children from our community had to be placed outside our region. In my meetings with CAS, I have learnt that this is a common trend that CAS is facing, not just in our community, but across Ontario and across Canada.

https://windsor.ctvnews.ca/mobile/video?clipId=1457080

After the interview, there were so many people who called or emailed my mom and other family members regarding my interview. Suddenly, I realized how public my story became. I didn’t think that many people watched the news, but I guess they do. Now a lot of people in my community know I am adopted. My parents have always been open with my brother, my sister and I about our adoption and have always been willing to answer questions.

There is a stigma that comes from being adopted but my parents never allowed us to feel that stigma. They made it sound very special and important. For my parents, adoption wasn’t a necessity, it was a want. Their original plan was to adopt 1 boy between the age of 6 to 8 and then have a baby of their own, to kind of close the gap with their 11-year-old birth son. They never imagined that the social worker would present 3 kids. They did a lot of praying and soul searching and decided to take the risk to adopt us and I am glad they did. They gave me a second chance at a better life. Because of the adoption, my mom had to give up the idea of having another birth child because 4 kids were enough to handle.

My parents felt they wanted to both have birth children and adopt because they wanted to make a difference in another child’s life and a difference they sure did make in the lives of 3 children. Fostering and adoption are so important. It gives kids more opportunities and the possibility of a second chance at a better life. There are many reasons why birth parents give up children. In my case, it was a teenage pregnancy.

Parenting is a lot of work and when you add foster kids or adoptive kids, it can even become more complicated. I saw what my parents went through with us but in the end, they kept us and loved us. I was taken when I was 6 months old and adopted at 3 ½ years old. I went through 6 different foster homes before finding me a forever home. My mom thought that I would be a safe bet along with my 2 ½-year-old sister because we were both young and she thought we wouldn’t remember anything. Did we fool her!!

My sister wasn’t too bad. The only problem with her was separation anxiety. With me it was a totally different story. I guess the moves had affected me and my 6-year-old brother. We did some damage to the house such as peeling wallpaper off walls and punching holes. My mom started doing lots of reading and trying to understand children’s behaviours even though she had been a mom for 11 years.  She once told me that a report she read said that the parents chosen for us 3 kids had to have sophisticated parenting skills. Until we moved in, she didn’t know what that meant, but she sure learned fast. It is a normal behaviour for kids to try to break things or cause chaos because it is their defense mechanism. They have been rejected too many times that they try to behave badly so the family can ask them to leave before they have the opportunity to bond and get hurt again. No matter what horible things we did, my parents kept us. My mom always tells me how grateful she is that CAS provided her with social workers that taught her how to parent children who had been in the foster care system.

Today my brother, sister and I are healthy, well-rounded individuals with our own passions. My 18-year-old brother just graduated high school and will be going to college. He is an athlete who especially loves badminton and soccer. He made the city senior all-star soccer team for the Greater Essex District School Board this year and last year competed at OFSAA for badminton. My little sister did competitive gymnastics for a couple of years and I am now entering pageants and getting involved in my community and trying to make a difference in people’s lives. I also like to play sports and love to be a goalie in soccer.

Fostering and adopting are both very important and can change lives as it has changed ours. That is why for me, it is so important to speak up on the importance of fostering and adopting.  After the CTV interview, I realized that I have taken a risk of my birth family finding out my last name and where I live, as well as, everyone knowing my story. If I can change one life, then I guess the risk was worth taking. Last year there were over 240 foster homes in the Windsor area, now we are down to 150. There are many reasons why we are losing the homes. Some are bittersweet: people who have fostered for 30 years are now retiring and some are stressed and need a break. This trend is seen across Canada.

I have learned through the meetings I have had with CAS that there is a lot of misconceptions or misinformation out there on who can be a foster or adoptive parent. I will be going through training and information sessions so that I can understand the system better and when I am in public, I can deliver the correct information and hopefully delete some misconceptions from our culture. I want to be the voice of CAS and make sure that through my public appearances I can talk about the importance of fostering and adopting and how that can change and rewrite the story of a child as my story was re-written.  Many people are shocked when they find out that they can be single, or professional or older to be able to help.

As I continue my year, I am looking forward to continuing to work with CAS and to make a difference in my community and in the lives of children.

I believe that it is not blood that makes you family, but love. My mom always tells me that I didn’t grow in her belly, but I grew in her heart and she loves me to the moon and back.

If you like more information on adoption you can go to www.adoption.ca

Love, Tia – Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2018

 

 

 

 

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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.

With love,

Tia-Lynne

 

 

 

Written by: Tia-Lynne
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SQUAAAAAAKKK

BAAAAAAHH

RAWWWWRRRR

 

Who? What? Where? Are those the noises of zoo animals? Correct! Today, I had a blast at the Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park! From baby goats charging at me to lemurs climbing all over me and from parrots trying to make small talk with me to baby lions munching on my finger, today was by far my personal favourite day of pageant week!

 

I thought I’d share a bit of my day with you all so enjoy the photos and be sure to visit the CFOAP to make your own memories with the cuddly… and not so cuddly, creatures!

   

But wait, there’s more! We also went to the Yorkdale shopping mall today! We shopped ’til we dropped – literally. A huge thank you goes out to Nine West for their generous gift card and Yorkdale Mall for all the discounts at selected stores.

 

Besides the shopping fun, we also got countless head turns and even photos from our little fans! Thank you Yorkdale, Nine West, and especially Miss Teenage Canada!

 

Sparkle and Shine,

Marina, Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017

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Guess who’s back? Shady’s back. Whoops, I was just jamming to some Eminem. Marina’s back, or should I say… Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017! I am back with some advice too – advice on my favourite place to visit in my hometown, Mississauga, Ontario.

Now I can be girly and tell you the mall is my favourite place, but you know me… the tomboy in a dress! My favourite place to visit on my spare time is known as The Riverwood Conservancy.

   

What is Riverwood? 

A place to wander where there is no wifi. A place where cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions no longer become a distraction. A place where technology is on pause and face-to-face communication comes to life again. A place where your number of likes is irrelevant and message notifications can wait. A place where your mind and body can be free.

 

Riverwood is a beautiful nature trail. It is a place I like to go to clear my mind and escape the busy city life. I find peace watching the river flow and comfort climbing up top to enjoy the scenery from a bird’s perspective. Despite my urge to go off trail and explore deep between the trees, I strongly suggest following the man-made path for your own personal safety *sarcastic tone*.

 

I find cute and interesting creatures at Riverwood such as squirrels, chipmunks, owls, ospreys, hawks, turkey vultures, white-tailed deer, red foxes, and salamanders. I also enjoy some unique and captivating plants, as the scenery is unlike any other.

 

Riverwood is known as the “lungs” of Mississauga, since it is purely filled with trees and living species. If you ever run out of oxygen, Riverwood is the place to refill (best advice ever, I know).

 

How did I find Riverwood?

Growing up, I would annually be a part of the cross country team and one of the most common race locations was Erindale Park. If you walk far enough at Riverwood, it turns into Erindale Park. While exploring Erindale, I discovered that there was a much more peaceful park nearby. Ever since then, my bike route has turned into a Riverwood self-reflection time.

 

What can you do at Riverwood?

Make it a date! Set up a picnic on the open field and eat some fruit with your partner whilst enjoying the scenery.

Bond with your family! Go for a walk along the trail. If you have a fishing permit, fish with your parents or siblings.

Take some Instagram bangers! Invite your friends and bring a good quality camera to have a photoshoot with the colourful autumn leaves or fresh spring vibes.

Steer away from the gym! Rather than working out indoors on sweaty machines, go for a run under the sun or bike through the bushes to burn off that bowl of pasta you just ate (and I did too…).

Explore with Fluffy the dog! Bring your pet when you visit Riverwood and explore nature together. Your dog will love to dig in the dirt and play fetch with the sticks you find.

At Riverwood, you will always create memories and have fun!

   

What do I like to do at Riverwood?

I usually bike down to Riverwood and find a comfy rock to have a seat on. I turn off my music and listen to the aesthetic sound of birds chirping and water flowing down the stream.

My advice is to either sit back and enjoy the view or go for a hike to explore hidden trails.

Don’t forget to check in with me here for updates on events leading up to the nationals!

Sparkle and Shine,

Marina, Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017

 

Written by: Marina
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Exactly a week ago, I experienced the most exhilarating feeling of my life – I went SKYDIVING! I mentioned this in my last post, but my stills and video footage just arrived in the mail and I thought I’d share them with you all. Enjoy!

 

My first time flying was at the Niagara Skydive Centre! I did a tandem jump with a sweet man named Peter, who ensured my safety and really helped me enjoy my flight. I would just like to say thank you to the Niagara Skydive Centre for giving me this incredible opportunity, as nothing can compare.

Word of Advice: If you are capable of going skydiving in your lifetime, I suggest doing it! It is far better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times. Free-falling is unlike any other experience, and it is the perfect combination of thrill and peace.

The video footage is attached on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages – check it out!

Sparkle and Shine,

Marina, Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017

Written by: Marina
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*Enters and curtseys*  

 

Hello all, and welcome to my page! My name is Marina, but you may recognize me as Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017. I am pleased to announce that I will be competing at the Miss Teenage Canada Nationals competition taking place on August 13th. I look forward to making new friends from all across Canada. I also cannot wait to be the voice for animals facing extinction all around the globe! Follow my journey leading up to the nationals by reading on and checking out my alternate social media platforms!

How did it all begin?

Glitz and glamour, frilly dresses, crowns and sashes – before this all became my reality, I lived a simple life in Mississauga, Ontario. On a daily basis, I spend majority of my time outdoors, where I can enjoy nature and interact with the creatures surrounding me. Growing up, while some girls were getting into makeup and concerned about their style, I was the girl who was playing in the mud and climbing a tree. How did this tree-hugging wanderer find herself in a pageant? Easy, I wanted a change. Not only for myself, as a way to come out of my comfort zone, but for the animals who need a voice. I have always had a passion for helping animals, and this is my chance to shine bright and make a difference in society.

 

What brings me happiness?

*Stranger walks their dog* *Runs to pet the dog*

 

Animals! All types of animals – big or small, furry or scaly – you name it, it will bring a smile to my face. I find an innocence in animals, similar to the innocence in infants. For example, a dog’s loyalty is unlike any other, and a dog can demonstrate that unconditional love truly exists. Showing an animal love and feeling their love in return is what brings me sheer happiness.

*Birds chirping* *Sits by the waterfall*

 

Nature! Hearing crashing waves hitting the shore, feeling the blazing sun warm up every inch of my body, and watching the sand creep its way between my toes is what makes my mind at peace. It is important to not take what we have for granted by enjoying our planet and its beautiful scenery.

*Propeller noises* *Jumps out of a plane*

 

Adrenaline! Whether it’s zip-lining or skydiving, I always find a way to keep my blood pumping and energy level sky-high (literally)! I went skydiving just a week ago, and it was the most thrilling and incredible experience of my life. Skydiving is the ultimate feeling of freedom. The wind hitting my face as I enjoyed the beautiful view while free-falling was unlike any other feeling. I love trying new (and crazy) things! Jobs may fill my pockets, but adventures will fill my soul.

*Music plays* *Breaks out my dance moves*

 

Dance! Whether it’s dancing on top of the toilet seat with my mom by my side or on stage with an audience cheering and applauding (my mom being the loudest), dancing is one of my many passions. From ballet to acrobatics and from jazz to hiphop, I always find a way to keep myself moving and entertained. Dance makes the fire in me come alive.

*BEEEEP* *Dives into the water*

 

Swimming! Yes, I am very competitive, especially when it comes to swimming. You can call me Marina the mermaid… or should I say, Marmaid. *Laughs* Whether it’s swimming to get a toasty tan and enjoying the water or competing in a freestyle race, swimming always makes me happy.

Don’t forget to check in with me here for updates on events leading up to the nationals!

Sparkle and Shine,

Marina, Miss Teenage Southwestern Ontario 2017

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I grew up in a small town. We had one high school with under 500 people, and up the time I was 12 we only ever had two stop lights. My town may be small, but the compassion of the people in it make it one of the biggest and brightest parts of my life.

There’s an organization in Kingsville named the “Neighbourhood Charitable Alliance”.  This organization was founded in 2012 by people in my community and since then it has raised over $140,000 for 80 local families in need.

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For a small town, we sure have big hearts!

At the second annual Spring Bling gala, I helped to sell raffle tickets. This night was hugely successful and we raised a lot of money for those in our community who need it. I cannot wait to see the difference that this night makes in the lives of others.

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I was so honoured to be a part of such an amazing night!

I recently came across a quote from Helen Keller that I feel fits this night perfectly.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

When we work together, we can change the world. Similar to the Butterfly Effect, when we work together towards a common goal, we impact more lives than we can on our own.

Written by: Olivia
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