Okanagan woman wins titles, advocates against bullying

Vernon woman wins International pageant title and uses platform to raise awareness for anti-bullying

Vernon’s Samantha Sewell, 20, represented Canada as well as the Vernon and area at the Miss Royalty International Pageant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this summer.

Here, Sewell managed to bring home the title of Miss International Volunteer. This is the first time this title has been brought to Canada. Sewell said this was a huge achievement. Her goal is to use her Pageant crowns and titles to make a difference in the world and in her community.

She was also awarded first Runner-up to Miss Royalty International, and top five age 13+ Role Model, the youngest one this year to place in this category.

Despite this recent success, Sewell didn’t grow up in the pageant world — actually, as she puts it, she was far from it. Sewell was severely bullied for years due to several speech impediments and struggling in school. She said that her peers dismissed her, wrote mean things on her locker and the bathroom walls; whispers followed her in the hallways. She said it got so bad that she would beg her mom to let her be home-schooled. She said she is grateful to the one teacher who helped her recover, gave her a safe place to eat lunch and gave her a safe space that allowed her to heal.

Then, Sewell found Instagram. This is where someone suggested she try pageanting.

Using her own experience, anti-bullying and suicide prevention became her platform. Her emotional pain was the base for which she built her successful pageant career. She said she never thought it would be as life-changing as it has been — both for herself and to those who she can reach with her message.

“The crown gives me the voice to achieve my goals,” Sewell explained. “Back at the beginning of high school I never thought I would be making a difference for people.”

Since the start of her pageant career, she has held five National Titles and one regional title.

Related: Surrey pageant hopeful aims to inspire others with anxiety

Related: Miss BC isn’t just about tiaras and sashes

Sewell began her most recent journey last September as Miss MRI Canada. Since then, she has been to over 80 events across the Okanagan and B.C., spreading awareness for her platform through organizations like Be Someone’s Hero Not a Bystander and Live Out Loud Charity, for which she is a National Ambassador.

She said she wants people to know that pageanting isn’t all about outward appearance or external beauty.

For her, it’s been the platform that has allowed her to tell her story, reach out to people who have similar experiences and hopefully, help change lives. Volunteering is a huge part of winning any title — arguably the largest part.

“It’s more than just going on stage,” she said. “That portion is only one weekend but there’s so much more to it.”

Sewell said there are many things she wishes to accomplish this year as Miss International Volunteer some of which include, passing a law which would make it mandatory for the Kids Help Phone number in all Bathrooms across BC and Canada, Speaking at local schools about anti-bullying and suicide prevention principles and attend all local events. But, she said this is just the beginning.

“This year is going to be something to remember, for myself and my community,” said Sewell. “I never would have imagined myself as being at all these places and conferences, let alone speaking at them. When I signed up for my first pageant, I never thought I’d be sitting here with an International title, being able to travel the world speaking and making a difference.”

Related: It’s all about the journey for Delta’s pageant hopefuls

Related: Langley pageant contender a self-proclaimed contradiction in terms

Related: Pageant gives Langley woman a platform to speak out

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Samantha Sewell won Miss International Volunteer at Winsconsin pageant in July. (Photo contributed).

Having been bullied for her speech impediments, she uses this experience and her new platform to spread awareness for anti-bullying campaigns throughout B.C. (Photo contributed).

Sewell said her goal is to use her Pageant crowns and titles to make a difference in the world and in her local community. (Photo contributed)

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