Miss Teen Awareness Pageant, founded by the MORE Organisation, (Manufacturer’s Of Real Empowerment), will be hosting the third edition of the event over the next two months.
Each year, MORE, a non-profit organisation, produces the event that attracts delegates with ages ranging from 14 - 19 years, and with an aim to increase awareness of societal ills and finding feasible solutions in order to bring about progressive change.
For the last couple of years since its inception, different issues plaguing our society have been used as the theme for the pageant, with this year’s focus on the topic of suicide.
MORE's Timon Olivieri spoke of the reason for producing such a pageant, saying: “The reason is I saw the need to enhance pageantry in teenage growth and to empower young women especially.”
He added that most adults see youths as not contributing anything to society and he wanted to do something about that.
Some of the issues tackled in the past were HIV and Aids in their first year, abuse last year, and this year suicide awareness.
Asked why suicide awareness was chosen as this year’s topic, Olivieri said: “This has hit home for us. In 2016, 15-year-old Faith Gajadhar, who was first runner up last year committed suicide the day school reopened. We did not know what was happening to her. So we need to speak about this issue and to encourage our troubled youth to speak out about their struggles and not keep it in.”
Makeena Yorkshire, 14, of Chaguanas, a proud delegate in the 2017 pageant said: “While doing my research paper for my passion project, what was alarming and frightening was the revelation about our country Trinidad & Tobago. The report classed TT as a high-income country; however, the country's average estimated suicide rate is much higher than the Americas region average of 7.3 per 100,000 and higher than the global average of 11.4 per 100,000.”
She stated that 193 suicides were reported in TT in 2012, of which 146 were males, and from all reports, in general, more men die by suicide than women.
“This placed TT at third in the region, after Guyana (44.2) and Suriname (27.8). Overall, TT ranks at number 41 out of 170 countries, with more suicides per 100,000 people than even the United States. The US is ranked at number 50. TT's suicide rate has increased in recent years; the unfortunate and depressing issue of suicide has become a staggering piece of harsh reality in today's world,” said Yorkshire.
She said when people hear the term pageant the first thing that comes to mind is swimsuit and exploitation of young ladies. However to her, the Miss Teen Awareness pageant is totally different she said it gives young ladies a chance to showcase talent and it is very informative and educational. Yorkshire added: “Individuals can also benefit from public speaking, doing research papers, learn make-up skills, and also learn proper dress code and enunciation of words for a job interview. I have also learnt the skill of networking in order to get school supplies to give to needy families. If given the opportunity to do it all over I wouldn’t change a thing. This pageant has taught me no matter I am a small person I can still effect positive change and become a role model to others.”
The Talent show comes off on October 14, at Learning Resource Centre Auditorium and the final is carded for November 11, at the Central Bank Auditorium.