My name is Jessica and I am Miss York Region World 2018.
I grew up in Markham, I am currently 20 years old, and I am proud to say that I am a biracial Canadian. My mother is Filipina and my father is an Italian and British Canadian. Being multiracial is a big part of my identity, as I have faced being different my whole life. I have never felt like I belonged to any specific cultural category, however it has almost never negatively impacted me. In Canada we have a diverse range of cultures living alongside one another in our beautiful country, so this encourages citizens to practice tolerance and acceptance. Being multiracial, I have almost always felt welcomed living in Canada. Canadians celebrate our differences and that is why I am so proud to be a Canadian.
Growing up I wasn’t involved in pageants as my parents enrolled me in various sports like soccer and karate. Through my years of competing in these sports I received multiple Most Valuable Player awards in soccer and medals in Karate tournaments. Currently I am a brown belt, working towards my black belt. These sports have taught me important life lessons like team work, dedication, work ethics and how to stand up for myself. I would not consider myself a “girlie girl” and that is because I grew up playing sports. I would like to be a role model for young girls and encourage them that you are not restricted to any one social category. A woman can be tough and strong, while also having a soft and delicate side. Dancing is also a huge part of my life as it has always been one of my favourite things to do. My family loves to dance, so growing up I was enrolled in Hawaiian, Jazz, Ballet and Hip Hop.
I competed in my first local pageant when I was 15 years old, where I received the title as Miss Teen Canadian Star 2014. I continued my pageant journey last summer, and received the title as Miss Earth Ontario 2017. I then went on to nationals for Miss Earth Canada in Montreal, where I placed 1st runner up. Competing in pageants has allowed me to grow into a confident young woman, where I can practice my kindness, interpersonal skills, leadership, manners and work ethic. I have previously received award in school for public speaking, but did not achieve the confidence that I have now. Although I have received awards in school for public speaking, it is only more recently through pageants, that I have become more confident both meeting and speaking with new people. Therefore, I am grateful for the opportunity to have had these experiences thus far, and I owe a lot to pageants for shaping me into the strong woman I am today.
I am currently a soccer referee and coach for the Unionville Milliken Soccer Club. I love my jobs because I am able to be on the soccer field, while working with the youth. Working with children is a passion of mine, as it is so satisfying being able to watch as children grow and improve. It is also very rewarding knowing that you play a role in helping a child through their failures, but also guiding them through their success.
My Platform: Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness
Now that I am older and starting to think of possible careers for the future, participating in pageants has provided me with the opportunity to network with non-profit organizations; which is something I am interested in. I am majoring in Anthropology and minoring in Women Studies at Western University, so I am considering working with non-profit organizations or with the United Nations. I am participating in the Miss World Canada pageant so I have the opportunity to build connections with people from non-profit organizations and to use my title to bring awareness to my platform; Suicide Prevention Awareness. I have chosen to partner with the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, to take upon the task of organizing upcoming fundraising events to raise awareness for suicide prevention in the York Region. This platform is dear to my heart because two years ago my 12-year-old cousin, Brendan, tragically chose to leave this world. Many significant changes occur during adolescence. While dealing with physiological and emotional changes, social changes, possible mental health issues, or even bullying, any one of these factors or a combination can lead young people to seek relief in suicide. Suicide is a sensitive topic to discuss, especially among our youth, however not talking about it will only further perpetuate dangerous attitudes and stigmas. It is imperative to open a dialogue with adolescents, so they feel comfortable openly sharing their feelings to trusted adults. Therefore, I am an advocate for youth suicide prevention and mental health in memory of my cousin Brendan. I am determined to make a positive, long-lasting impact and would be honoured to have all of your support in raising awareness for suicide prevention and mental health.
Ambassador of Mental Health, for the Youth & Parent’s Association of Markham (YPAM)
I am honoured to have been recently been appointed the Youth & Parents Association of Markham’s (YPAM) Ambassador of Mental Health. YPAM is a non-profit organization that’s primary goal is to provide educational programs for youth who struggle in school, and help build stronger relationships between parents/ guardians and their children. Mental health is a high priority at YPAM, as they encourage children to seek the help they may need and attempt to break the stigma of mental health.
As the Ambassador of Mental Health for YPAM, I am able to share my personal story of the devastating effects of youth suicide. My goal is to bring awareness to suicide prevention and mental health, and create a dialogue between the youth and adults, in order to break the stigma and encourage those at risk of suicide to get the help they may need.
Join Me on My Journey to Miss World Canada
I am excited to share my experiences through this blog so that everyone reading can join me on this journey through my challenges and success, and hopefully encourage everyone to work together to make a positive change.
Having the title as Miss York Region World 2018, has provided me with the opportunity to connect with other leaders and bring awareness to my platform. This pageant means more to me than just having a title; it is about the journey of improving myself and the opportunity to leave a long lasting impact in this world.
I will be hosting various fundraising events for CASP, Girl Guides ‘Mommy and Me Trust Tea’ sessions, and speaking at events in order to raise awareness for suicide prevention in memory of my cousin Brendan. Please stay tuned for up-coming events and join me on my journey to Miss World Canada.
Miss York Region World 2018