At first, the beads Armstrong’s Kassidy Kleef pulled from the bag to make a charm bracelet with didn’t mean anything to her.
Bonding with close to 100 of her fellow Miss Teen Canada Globe contestants in Toronto in August, the exercise called for Kleef and the others to pull out beads, put them on the bracelet in any particular order, and create a story.
When she looked at the beads again which contained a heart, a star and the letters Z, Y, W and Q, Kleef saw an instant parallel to her own life and shared her story.
“I was always the odd one out, got bullied at school and it really got to me when I was younger,” said Kleef, 16, a Grade 12 student at Vernon’s W.L. Seaton Secondary School.
“My bracelet represents me because the letters on it, they’re kind of the odd ones out. What I took from it was even if you’re the odd one out, be yourself because you are a star.”
What Kleef also took from the pageant was a spot on the Miss Teen Canada Globe national roster.
Kleef, named Miss Western British Columbia early in the 10-day pageant, made it to the top-15, then the final 10 and was chosen Miss Teen Canada Globe Second Princess. This will allow her to compete internationally for Canada in likely March 2015 in either Albania or Brazil.
“The experience was life-changing,” said Kleef.
“Nothing compares to it. I’m so excited for the international pageant. This has boosted my confidence and made me an overall better person.”
Upon arrival in Toronto, Kleef spent the first three days preparing for the pageant.
She had to learn the proper way of walking for the competition; had to boost her confidence; had to learn hair and make-up. Then, all the contestants were shuffled to places like the Eaton Centre mall, and Canada’s Wonderland amusement park for public appearances.
The first part of the pageant was to determine places by region, which is how Kleef became Miss Western British Columbia.
After that, it was more training and having to deliver their platforms, or speeches, and announce what charity they were competing for, in front of an international panel of judges completely unknown to Kleef or any of the contestants.
Kleef wrote a monologue on bullying, which fit in well with her charity of choice – Me To We Free The Children. This is the organization that puts on the highly successful We Day events in Vancouver, one which Kleef plans to volunteer at this year.
Problem? Kleef left her original monologue in the carry-on luggage compartment of the plane, so had to re-write her speech from memory the night before she delivered it to the panel.
Despite that, Kleef delivered her speech and her confidence began to rise.
“You don’t know the judges who are staring at you and you have to be yourself,” she said. “If you’re not yourself, and you didn’t show that confidence, there’s nobody to help you but yourself. I had to throw away all of the nerves, be confident and be who I am and shine. It all worked out very well.
“Plus, being shoved on stage in front of 500 people in a bikini for the first time, you have to be confident.”
Kleef will be making several personal appearances as she prepares for the international competition. She attended the CIBC Run For The Cure and hopes to drop the puck at an upcoming Vernon Vipers game.