Fifteen-year-old Sophia Lia has been awarded the title of Miss Teenage Central Alberta.
The École Secondaire Notre Dame High School student entered her first pageant in Calgary and came out with the crown at the end of February.
“Going into it … I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I just came in with confidence and said, ‘whatever happens, happens,’” said Lia, who reigns from Gull Lake/Red Deer.
“It ended up being such a fun weekend and I met so many incredible girls that had very similar values to me, that wanted to help other people, so I made lots of new friends and it was a really fun experience.”
The pageant consisted of demonstrating interview skills, a gown walk and a swimsuit portion.
“This is not to see who is the skinniest [or] who works out more, but this is just based on confidence,” Lia said, adding overall attitude during the weekend also contributed to your final score.
Lia explained as Miss Teenage Central Alberta she is responsible for having a platform she is passionate about, which for her is mental health, specifically self-esteem, self-love and self-care for teens.
With the COVID-19 pandemic she has been focusing on helping teens through social media as well as keeping busy with multiple projects.
For the past year Lia has been writing a monthly article for Teen Look Magazine in Edmonton which covers various mental health topics as well as a Q&A column where teens can submit questions.
She is also going to be launching a magazine focusing on mental health so teens can have a platform where they feel safe to share their stories or seek advice.
“The second thing I’ve been doing is French tutoring online, as a French immersion student myself I know how difficult it can be to transition to online,” explained Lia, who has been tutoring since before the pandemic.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to continue this online to help those students who don’t have a French parent at home,” she continued.
Additionally, she also records herself reading French books for a partnership with École Steffie Woima School.
“… They’ve been uploading them to Google Classroom so the parents and the students have access so they can read along and this is a great tool for the students who don’t have a French sibling or a French parent because it’s really important that they continue practicing their reading.”
Lia has also been cooking for essential workers to help get them through overtime and long shifts, and hosted a social distanced food drive for the Sylvan Lake Food Bank and donated toiletries to the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre.
Lastly, she has been fundraising for Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada through a bracelet campaign she has been running with Pura Vida Bracelets.
The partnership not only raises money for charity, but also helps Lia fundraise for her upcoming pageant.
Winning the title of Miss Teenage Central Alberta brings the opportunity to compete at Miss Teenage Canada at the end of August in Toronto, Ont.
“Now that I’ve been through the first one I have a more clear idea of what the process is like,” explained Lia, “the most important thing is to be working on your platform and it’s important that you show that this is something so important to you and you’re not just doing it for the title.”
“That’s really what I’m going to be doing I’ve just been preparing as much as I can by really showing that this platform is super important to me and winning a title like [Miss Teenage Canada], for me, would be just another opportunity to have more influence on young teens and kids to help them with their mental health.”
Her journey to Toronto wouldn’t be possible without the help of her sponsors located around Central Alberta and even as far as Quebec.
At this time during the pandemic Lia is sending the message to young girls that positivity is key.
“I know that times are very tough right now and it seems like everything is so dark, but it’s so important to stay optimistic and to remember that this is only temporary,” Lia said.
She welcomes any teens or kids who need help keeping a healthy mindset to reach out to her via Facebook, Instagram or at firstname.lastname@example.org.