Vernon’s own Samantha Sewell, Miss International Volunteer, won a top 12 spot for the 2018 Most Inspiring Miss Award with Positive Pageantry – an international Pageantry award system.
Sewell was the only woman in the top 12 who was not located in the United States. The top 12 winners were chosen by nominations from the public as well as the Positive Pageantry advisory board comprised of high profile members such as Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011.
Sewell received nominations from as far away as Australia, she said. Sewell has been an active advocate in the North Okanagan as well as nationally and internationally for anti-bullying. Her story and charity work is what earned her the honour, she said.
When Sewell was young, doctors said Sewell would never be able to speak and sound like everyone else, she recalls. Sewell was bullied throughout school for her speech impediments, and in Grade 9 was even bullied by a teacher to the point where she thought about dropping out of school and began showing signs of depression and anxiety, she said.
It was at this time that one teacher and a small group of girls stood up for Sewell and she realized how much of a difference a single act can make.
When Sewell won her first pageant title in 2015, she made it her goal to help children who were bullied and have been told that they can not do something because it is her belief that you can do anything, she said. Sewell noticed that people listen more when you wear a crown on your head and said that the crown can become a microphone for change.
As well as her own platform work, Be Someone’s Hero, Not a Bystander, Sewell is a Canadian Ambassador for Live Out Loud Charity and has been working with the organization for three years now. Because of Live Out Loud Charity, Sewell has been able to be trained in suicide prevention, anti-bullying and core character development.
Sewell has been able to speak at high function events such as Chicago fashion week and is booked as a speaker at New York Fashion Week later this year.
Sewell, now a university student at Gallaudet University and an early childhood educator assistant, said she is working on having a law passed that would ensure that the Kids Help Phone number be located in all elementary and high schools across B.C. and eventually Canada. It is Sewell’s hope that more youth will see the options available for help. For more information about Sewell’s story, visit samsewell.com.