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Today couldn’t be a better day to tell you all why my platform is so important to me and why I made the choice to do MTC.
Two years ago today my whole world changed. It was the day I lost my identical twin sister to suicide. She had been bullied both on and off line to the point it hurt her enough she had started to physically harm herself. She stopped eating, began self harming and stopped doing all the things she enjoyed. She enjoyed reading and painting, she was a cheerleader (with me), she took several different music lessons and loved it but more importantly she was the half of me that was soft, caring and kind. No matter what anyone said or did she looked for the good in them.
Shortly after her suicide my family and I knew we had two choices. One we could stay quiet and just carry on as best we could or two, we could do something to fight for the changes we need in our society to make sure those who need help get it and that no one else had to live with the same pain we face every day. We made the choice to fight for change! It is what Morgan would have wanted.
Since losing my twin I have been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression and OCD. All of which change the way I have to deal with everyday life, the way I cope with things that could or do happen and the way my family functions. Fighting for change and finding my voice was the most important thing I needed to do and I did that. Making the choice to compete in MTC was not easy to make. My anxiety with speaking in front of people is pushed to its limit, being separated from my parents will be hard and trying on both myself and my parents but we know it is something we have to face. I will be okay but I am sure I will have my moments and so will my mom and dad <3
My platform is our non profit Morgan’s Mission. What we do is work with organizations on changes that are needed for mental health and the way bullying is handled. We also fight to have suicide prevention taught in communities, schools and encourage anyone who works with teens to take that training too. Competing in MTC screams Morgan! This is why I decided it was something I needed to do, for myself and for her. During Regionals in Calgary I carried my shell in my hand which holds some of her ashes, this is where my strength came from and she needed to be on that stage too.
To add to today we also came to learn that June 27 is also National PTSD Awareness day, a sign if you will showing us that what we are doing is the right thing. My PTSD comes from the loss of my twin but now her angelversary is also a day of awareness for me that will push me even harder to make all our dreams come true.
So today I will spend time remembering my twin Morgan and all that has happened in two short years that have brought me to a point in my life that I am starting to feel stronger. RIP Morgan, I love you. Till I See You Again xo
Its been crazy busy again the last couple weeks!
First off Miss Teenage Central Alberta hosted a car wash for Free the Children and invited me to join her! Of course I said yes, I mean we have become really close over the last few months and REALLY hit it off in Calgary at Regionals!
We had a blast washing cars, trucks, bikes and she even got to wash a hot rod! We got sparkle tattoos and of course we ate from the food truck!
We met some pretty amazing people and enjoyed the day fundraising for Free the Children!
The next thing we decided to do, seeing we both have close ties with Ft Mac. Was a bottle drive! We were only going to hold it for two days but ended up doing four days! We raised $600 and even made it into the Spruce Grove AB local paper for it 🙂
I am not going to lie it is a lot of work to be in a pageant, go to school, work PT and help run a non profit but it is an amazing feeling every time I am able to give back to those who need it!
I am beyond relieved to have a pageant sister who has taken me under her wing and helped me so much in learning the ropes of pageant life. Miss Teenage Central Alberta you rock and I am honoured to call you a friend. Love ya Brandee xo, this is a competition but we are people first and helping each other shows our true character which is important for everyone to see!
Before I catch everyone up on what I have been doing I need to announce that I am going to be an AUNT AGAIN!!!! My oldest sister is due for her second baby December 1st! I am so excited!!
On another note I have been trying to do what I can for my home community Fort Mac. I personally donated $500 that I had saved for the pageant because honestly this is where my heart is. My brother still lives there and was evacuated safely but this whole ordeal has caused a few set backs for me mentally which I am happy to say have been taken care of and treated. I will continue to raise money for local charities in Fort Mac because when they return they will need those local charities up and running!
Now on to catch you all up on what I have been doing
Pink Shirt Day Feb. 25 2016
Each year the Boys & Girls Club hosts a Pink Shirt Day walk. This year I was able to walk with the community and a friend from Fort McMurray who had come down to visit!
This was the first event I was able to attend as Miss Teenage Fort Saskatchewan which was perfect given my platform! Pink Shirt day was started back in Nova Scotia by two young men who stood up for a male student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Today it has become one of the largest movements in Canada that stand against bullying!
At the walk which ended at our Co-Op our mayor proclaimed Pink Shirt day in our city and presented it to our Boys & Girls Club! We then celebrated with hot dogs and cake!
I was able to give my first interview to our local radio station telling why this day was so important to me and why I was wearing a crown.
After the walk was done my parents then were able to take me down to the Pink Promise wall for Shaw TV. Shaw TV had previously done an interview with my mom and I regarding Morgan and Morgan’s Mission which aired on Pink Shirt Day. We went to the Pink Wall and made our Pink Promise in memory of Morgan and all who have been lost to bullying & cyber bullying.
Mix 107.9 Radio Interview
So I was able to finally get in for my radio interview where we were able to talk some about my non-profit, my upcoming event Beautiful Me as well as my title!
It was fun sitting in the studio on live radio! I have done interviews before but this was just fun!
We also recorded an ad for them to play throughout the next year promoting my title and the station!
Beautiful Me 2016 in St. Albert
It has been such a busy few weeks for me! I love it but I also need my down time.
This past weekend I was part of a day that started five years ago to help 25 vulnerable, at risk and deserving teens a day to find their inner beauty. Last year I was nominated to be one of those teens having lost my twin just a few months before. This day was the first day I was able to smile and dance and be myself. It was life changing for me. It allowed me to find a part of myself that had been lost. At the end of the day my mom gave a speech to the volunteers who were there and they felt it was something we could work together on and 5 spots were added in memory of Morgan.
This year 30 teens were nominated and got a day to have hair, make up, wardrobe and photos done and I returned in title to help out and mentor some of the girls. This event is amazing and I love seeing the difference in these teens as the leave holding their head held high with self confidence!
International Diana Award
This year I am happy to say I was awarded the International Diana Award for my work with Morgan’s Mission in raising awareness and speaking out against bullying as well as speaking up about mental illness and the importance of suicide prevention. In my life suicide is a reality and I should never be made to feel ashamed of that or feel silenced. Mental Illness is something everyone in their life will deal with. It may be yourself or someone you care about. We should never be forced into silence or judged because of something we can not control. And bullying? Well so many of us have dealt with bullying and peer abuse that its time we stand up and take back our rights to be and feel safe in school, in public and online!
This award is personal to me after learning more about who the peoples Princess was as a person. The more my family told me about things she had done, or things her family has done to keep her legacy alive the more she reminded me of my twin Morgan. Always looking for the positive and always helping others even when they hurt her. To me this is dedicated to Morgan and I hope I am able to have her legacy live on and honour her just as Diana’s sons do for her.
On a personal note I finally got a cat! However he is completely crazy and attacks everything! LOL! The funny thing is he was born on mine and Morgan’s birthday! Cool right? Morgan was always the cat person and me a dog person but its nice having a cat around again…… well most times!
Me to We Nomination!
So I was shocked when I found out I had been short listed and made top three for the Canadian Living Me to We Award! Again for my work with my non-profit Morgan’s Mission J
Mix 107.9 did a little interview promoting the voting which was awesome of them to do! Voting was for two weeks and the winner will be announced in October at Me To We Day Toronto and in the October issue of Canadian Living magazine!
Good luck to everyone and it is just an honour making top three! It was pretty cool given the charity of choice for MTC happens to be Free the Children which is part of Me to We!!
P.A.R.T.Y Grade 12 Mock Accident
This year I decided to be one of the actresses in the mock accident for the grade 12 classes. This year they did drinking and driving. I was the one who was killed in the accident. They do a mock accident scene with the first responders and then they move on to a full funeral. This year some where freaked out when they were asked to come look in the coffin because they had placed a mirror there so when you looked in you seen yourself. This tragically can happen to anyone. If you make a choice to drink and drive you are putting the lives of those we all love and care about at risk. My mom always told people they had no right to put her or her family at risk by getting behind the wheel after you had been drinking. You know what? She is right! After being a part of this I felt I did a small part in helping someone make the choice to NOT drink and drive OR even be the one to stop a friends or family member from doing it. I enjoyed being part of this and I know I will do it again!
Proclamation of Youth & Child Mental Health Day May 7th
Last October I had the city proclaim World Mental Health Day, this year I am honoured to say the city Proclaimed Youth & Child Mental Health Day! This could not have come at a better time. With the fires that raged through Fort McMurray and still threaten the camps in places mental health is going to be needed even more in that community once everyone is allowed back home.
As a teen myself who has mental illness this day is important because my generation and future generations need to know that their mental health is just as important as their physical health!
So that’s it for now! I have a few events coming up so I will fill you all in on that soon!!
I apologize in advance if I get emotional in this blog.
So over the last week my family and I have been busy raising money, shopping and loading trucks with fuel, water and food for those stranded on Highway 63 and then for the Legion where evacuees are stopping for supplies.
Its been heartbreaking watching a community that had opened its arms and hearts to me and my family in our time of need after Morgan passed away. We spent the first day of evacuations on watch while we waited to hear from all our friends that they were safe. More importantly we sat on pins and needles waiting to hear from my brother or from anyone who had information about where he was. We got that call just after 7pm from him saying he got out of the city and was heading west of Edmonton.
Last night we stepped back. We had to. My mom is on the verge of running herself into the ground as she tends to do in the face of tragedy and other’s time of need and my dad is wondering now about school, work and where we will be in a couple months time. You see as much as we complained about being isolated in Ft. Mac we grew to call it home and we miss it.
Today I will be at City Hall with the mayor as she proclaims Mental Health Week as well as Child & Youth Mental Health Day which is tomorrow. Another small step in making the changes we need. It is even more important today as we remember as volunteers we need to make sure we are looking after our own mental health, and knowing that 1 in 3 evacuees will now need access to mental health treatment and care. This is a loss and a tragedy. Grief and PTSD will happen as a result of this and this community will need help in the weeks and months to come. The volunteers who listen and see these people come through can and will feel these effects, as well as all those who are fighting the fire, first responders, RCMP, clean up crews etc will all feel these effects for a long time to come.
While I should be posting about events I have done or will be doing I am sorry I can’t. My heart and soul are with my old community and that’s all I can think about right now.
Tomorrow I will be helping at Heartland Ford from 10-6 for their BBQ fundraiser and I hope to make some kids smile and laugh in a time they need it. For now know I may be Miss Teenage Fort Saskatchewan 2016 because this is where I live now but my heart is still a Fort Mac girl. Please remember to donate if you can to the relief, either Red Cross or we have all our donations to Morgan’s Mission going to immediate needs around the city and neighbouring cities who have evacuees staying there. I am off to get ready but remember #FortMacTough and #AlbertaStrong <3