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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.
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.
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.
While finishing up my first year at Guelph, I had the honour of giving Miss Teenage Toronto East 2016, Sakshi, a tour of the beautiful place that I have the privilege of calling home. As any proud Gryphon would do, I told Sakshi that she should choose to come to Guelph in the Fall. I mean, it’s only the best school ever! But showing her around and giving her the low down on what life in Guelph is all about, it got me thinking about why I chose to come to Guelph in the first place.
In high school, I maintained a 95% average, I played volleyball, tennis, track and field, and soccer, I was a member of the semi-formal planning committee, the Glee club, and student council. Needless to say, I was accepted to every University that I applied to. But when it came down to it, I narrowed my choices down to Western, Windsor, and Guelph. Growing up in Kingsville, Ontario, Guelph is the farthest of the three choices, but after touring all three campuses, I knew that I had to go to Guelph. From the moment that I stepped onto campus, something about Guelph just felt like home, and not once have I regretted my decision.
So here are the top 8 reasons why I love my University:
When I first came to Guelph, I wanted to be a vet. Then for a little while, I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer so I was going to enrol in some business courses. By the time the year had ended, I had decided on becoming a dietician. The programs at Guelph are so flexible and the program counsellors are extremely helpful. I was able to switch programs without even having to get out of bed.
2. I like food.
Guelph’s food has been rated as some of the best in the country, and after living there for a year, I completely agree! From crepes, to Mongolian grill, to fresh vegan and vegetarian options, there was always something for everyone.
3. I love animals.
And I mean REALLY love animals. From the crazy Guelph squirrels, to the service dogs in training, to the occasional pig on a leash, everywhere you look on campus you’ll see cute little furry things running around and that is 100% okay with me!
4. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter.
I lived in Johnston Hall, which closely resembles Hogwarts, we were the Johnston Hall “Dragons”, my school colours are red and gold, we’re the Guelph “Gryphons”, and we have a quidditch team. Enough said.
5. I love volunteering.
At Guelph, there are so many ways to get involved on campus and give back. There was always something going on, whether it be a blood drive, a bake sale, or a fundraising dinner. I love being able to make a difference so Guelph was the perfect fit for me.
6. The dorms.
A walk in closet, wifi and an unbeatable view. What more could a girl need?
7. The school spirit.
People that go to Guelph, are PROUD to be Gryphons and they are not afraid to let everyone know that! The energy and atmosphere around campus is unlike any other school spirit I’ve ever experienced. You can never cheer too loud or own too many Guelph sweaters.
8. The people.
The people at Guelph are some of the kindest people I have ever met. From holding open doors, to leaving little stress buster kits in the library, Gryphons know how tough University can be sometimes and go out of their way to make it as easy as possible for their fellow students.
So here’s to one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (besides signing up for the Miss Teenage Ontario Pageant), one amazing year down, and hopefully many more to come!
On Saturday April 12th, I participated in Relay for Life here at the University of Guelph along with 500 of my fellow students to help support the Canadian Cancer Society. From 7pm to 7am we walked, remembered, and fought back against this terrible disease.
During the event we were asked to raise our hand if we were affected or if we knew someone who’s life had been affected by cancer. Every hand in the room went up. This is my fourth time participating in Relay for Life and I do it so that one day, my children won’t have to raise their hands.
I stayed in the Ronald McDonald House in London while receiving treatment for my eating disorder. I had the privilege of meeting some of the most inspirational children who unfortunately have been affected by this disease. I walked/ran 40 km that night for them that night and every step was worth it!
Now it’s your turn to accept the baton. Check out the Canadian Cancer Society’s website to find an event near you!
Canadian Cancer Society Website: http://convio.cancer.ca/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CAN_NATL_homepage&s_locale=en_CA
On International Women’s Day, I participated in a 5K walk/run in order to raise awareness about sexual violence and demonstrate the large number of people in our community committed to supporting survivors of sexual violence.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, less than 10% of sexual assaults are reported to police. This number is not okay! I would say that I would be happy when 100% of sexual assaults are reported to the police, but I won’t be. I will be happy when sexual assault is no longer a problem that our society has to deal with.
I walked so that one day, I won’t have to worry that my daughter will be abused, because 1 in 4 women in North America will be abused in their lifetime. I walked so that my friends know that if they have been abused, they can come to me and I will help them find support. I walked for all of the amazing and beautiful women I know that have been abused in their lives. I walked so that one day, we will no longer need to walk to end sexual assault.
I’m lucky to belong to a family of some of the strongest women I know. There are no shortage of strong female role models in my life. I hope to one day inspire strength in young girls in the way that the women in my life have inspired me!
So here’s to strong women! May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.
This year while I was studying at the University of Guelph, I attended a Syrian Refugee Dinner in order to raise funds for the living and study costs of the Refugees at my school. This year we had a refugee named Sarah who was at our school studying Biology and in the Fall we look forward to welcoming another Syrian student.
Throughout the night, we were treated to Syrian cuisine, a traditional Syrian dance, and we got to hear the story of a woman who’s husband served in the army during a war in Syria many years ago. I felt honoured the entire night to be experiencing some of their culture. I am proud to live in a country where multi-culturalism is so abundant and to attend a school that cares so much about diversity and equality.
Canada is planning to welcome over 25,000 Syrian refugees and there is no shortage of ways that we can help! You can donate through the link posted at the bottom of this page, you can volunteer in your community’s welcoming efforts, you can sponsor a refugee or a family, or you can simply treat your new neighbours with welcome arms and a warm heart. We can all make an effort to show that we care.
Link to the Government of Canada’s Syrian Refugee site: www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/
This week I donated blood for the first time. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but up until now I have never been able to due to health reasons. But last Monday, with the support of the many amazing volunteers at the blood clinic, I was able to give blood.
When we give blood, we are giving someone a second chance at life. A single car crash victim can need up to 50 units of blood. A patient battling leukaemia can need 8 units a week during treatment. Giving blood takes less than half an hour for the entire process. That’s less than the time it takes to watch an episode of television, and believe me when I say, it is much more rewarding.
At the young age of 18, my oldest brother’s best friend passed away due to vasculitis. While in the hospital, he needed countless transfusions of blood. To know that my donation could help someone like my brother’s friend Paul, warms my heart and makes being poked with a needle seem like a small price to pay.
All it takes is one donation to help save a life. Check the Canadian Blood Services website to find a clinic near you today. Like they say, it’s in you to give!
Canadian Blood Services: http://www.blood.ca
On February 20th at the Caboto club in Windsor, the community that I am proud to be a part of welcomed Syrian refugees to their new home. The refugees were able to come, meet their neighbours, and hopefully start to feel more comfortable in their new community.
Meeting all of the families humbled me and made me truly appreciate what these families have gone through. I can never imagine how it feels to have to leave your home, but I will try my hardest to make the transition to their new home as comfortable as possible. We can all do our part. Whether it be something as simple as saying “Hello” and smiling, or going as far as to organize a charity dinner or sponsoring a family, we can all do something to help!
My high-school volleyball coach, Bronwen Wood, is an amazing woman. She is strong, independent and is always looking for ways to help others. When she heard about the Syrian Refugees in Windsor-Essex county, she went ahead and coordinated local artists to create a colouring book for the refugees. This colouring book demonstrates all of the wonderful aspects of life in our community and serves as an amazing welcome gift to the children of these families. I am proud to have such an amazing role model in my life.
This night reminded me that love and happiness are synonymous. You cannot have one without the other. And though I may be writing this post 4 hours away from my home and my family, home is where the heart is, and love knows no boundaries.
This Family Day was one that I will never forget. I spent the day at the Tecumseh mall helping to promote the upcoming Ronald McDonald House in Windsor, Ontario. This event was extremely important to me because I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the Ronald McDonald House and all of the amazing people who turn that house into a home.
While I was in London receiving treatment for my eating disorder, my Mom stayed at the Ronald McDonald house. For months she was able to be near me and support me, while at the same time being supported herself by the staff, volunteers, and other families staying in the house. We met so many kind and caring people during our stay. We ate together, laughed together, and when needed, cried together.
The Ronald McDonald House supported me during my recovery in a way that no doctor ever could. Whether I needed someone to talk to, someone to take my mind off of things with a craft or a movie, or whether I simply needed someone to help me with my homework, the people in the house were there for me. They truly became a second family to me and I am so excited for the new house to open up this year in Windsor so more families can find healing in this home away from home.
Thank you to the Ronald McDonald House for helping to shape me into the woman that I am today.
Hello everyone! My name is Olivia and I am ecstatic to announce that on January 24th in Toronto, I was crowned Miss Teenage South Western Ontario.. Through this blog, I invite you to follow me on my journey to the Miss Teenage Canada competition. The next few months are going to be filled with fundraisers, public appearances, charity events and potentially a fancy dress or two. I am so excited to share this experience with each and every one of you.
Now a little bit about me. I am currently 18 years old. I was born and raised in Kingsville, Ontario and am proud to call such a charming, little town my home. Found on the North Shore of Lake Erie, Kingsville is Canada’s southernmost town. Growing up with two older brothers, left no room for boredom. Whether it be spending time at the beach, exploring the forest near our house, or taking our sleds down the big hill, we were always finding something to do outdoors. So it should come as no surprise that protecting our environment is something that is important to me.
Plans for the future. I am currently attending the University of Guelph in the hopes of one day becoming a dietician. Having personally struggled with an eating disorder, I know how important proper nutrition is to overall well being. I want to help others to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential and I know that the first step to that is having good health.
Hobbies and interests. At the beginning of the school year, I joined a sorority here in Guelph called Pi Beta Phi. Overnight, I went from having two brothers, to having 30 new sisters. The sorority values integrity, lifelong commitment, honesty and respect, philanthropic service to others, personal and intellectual growth, and sincere friendship. These values are all things that I identify with which is why this sorority is such a good fit for me. I have met so many strong and independent women and made so many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The main philanthropy of Pi Beta Phi is called Read>Lead>Achieve, and it supports a lifelong love of reading which leads to success and productivity in the future. As a bookworm myself, getting to share my love of reading with others really puts the icing on the cake for me.
Sports. Growing up, I was always a very active child and I have played almost every sport. I have danced, done competitive swimming, done gymnastics, been the goalie of a hockey team, been the captain/MVP of my high school’s soccer team, played volleyball, done track-and-field, played tennis, and finally, played basketball. Now that I am in University, my studies take priority over my love for sports, but I still find time to go to the gym. Lifting weights and doing yoga empowers me. It shows me what my body is capable of and that is something that I believe everyone should experience at some point in their lives.
Volunteering. Giving back to the community is something that I believe in the importance of. I have always loved getting involved in as many ways as possible. I have participated in the local Relay for Life several times, I have helped run volleyball clinics for local youth, I have choreographed for my high-schools Glee club, I have worked at produce stands that support charity, I have participated in a car wash to raise money for my school, I spent one summer volunteering at a Day camp for kids, I organized a yard sale to raise money for cancer, and last summer I volunteered at an animal rehabilitation centre. I love volunteering because I believe in the power of kindness. One good dead can start a chain reaction and before we know it, we are making a difference in the lives of many.
My platform. As Miss Teenage South Western Ontario, I plan to use my title to inspire youth through promoting self-love. Self-love can be achieved in many ways. Through learning to love your body through the power of sport, connecting with nature, nourishing your mind through reading, enhancing your soul through volunteerism, or simply learning to accept yourself for everything that makes you you! When we love ourselves, we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to. One of the reasons I decided to compete in the Miss Teenage Ontario competition in the first place was the pageant’s motto “Be your own kind of beautiful”. We are all beautiful, we all have things that make us special and unique, and if we grow up learning that, then it will be harder to forget.
So now that you know a little bit about me, I hope that you will join me over the next few months as I travel to the Miss Teenage Canada competition. I promise that there will never be a dull moment.
Ta ta for now,