Shimiah Lewis, 19, Miss Maloney Gardens, was crowned Miss Teen Awareness 2017. Miss Teen Awareness Pageant is an initiative of the Manufacturer’s Of Real Empowerment (MORE) organisation, a non-profit organisation. The pageant was held earlier this month at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain. For its organisers this is not just a beauty pageant but one which seeks to bring broader issues in TT to the fore.
The pageant was created by Timon Olivieri, CEO of MORE who wanted to create a signature event which would merge pageantry with the need to shed light on some of TT’s societal issues. Olivieri said, “The pageant targets young ladies between the ages of 14 to 19 who have had no prior experience in modelling. We train them in the basics of pageantry as well as life skills.”
Over the training period, participants learn simple hair and make-up preparation, public speaking, etiquette, communication and modelling skills among others. But participants also receive a theme on which they are expected to educate others. Oliveri and his team called this “a passion project.” He said the passion project promotes awareness through education on social media platforms, outreach programmes, fundraising walks and other creative projects. Participants also created a video on the topic and the top three were displayed on the final night.
“Our brand is named Miss Teen Awareness because we use the pageant to educate not only the ladies but their parents, peers and the public on different societal issues.”
In the past two years, the pageant has focused on HIV/Aids and abuse awareness. “This year we decided to focus on suicide awareness as this issue has directly affected the pageant recently and we also saw an increase in this type of act in society,” Olivieri said. “In 2016, we lost our first runner up of 2015 Faith Gajadhar through this act, so we asked our participants this year to raise awareness on this topic,” he added.
The contestants were given several challenges prior to the final night on which they were judged. These included talent, introductory speeches and other preliminary competitions. The top three talent performances, Miss Chaguanas Makeena Yorkshire, Miss Tobago Zavina Sergeant and Miss Maloney Gardens, Lewis were given the opportunity to repeat their performances in front of the audience on the final night. This was followed by the question and answer segment as well as the Top Model segment which was won by Miss Tobago Zavina Sergeant.
The first runner up was Miss Tobago Zavina Sergeant, 18, followed by Miss Arima Jewel Johnson, 14, third runner up was Miss Los Bajos Emerald Edwards, 18 and fourth runner up Miss Arouca Shayna Sookhoo, 15.