Platform: American Heart Association's Alliance
for a Healthier Generation

Heart disease and the struggle to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle has impacted my life in many different ways. Being a spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation has helped me finally achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle myself after yo-yo dieting and coping with the dreaded “freshman 15”- which in my case actually ended up being more like the freshman 20. For me, the platform came before pageants. After losing my 12 year old cousin, Erick, to congenital heart disease two summers ago, I realized how lucky I am just to have the chance to take care of my heart when so many people, like Erick, are born without a healthy heart. I was empowered by the knowledge that I had the opportunity, not privilege, to choose to take care of my heart for the rest of my life by changing my lifestyle now.
It’s my mission to share with children and teens how lucky they are to have a chance that some people like my cousin never get, an opportunity to make the small lifestyle changes, day by day, that will positively affect their health for a lifetime preventing obesity and diabetes- two major health care issues in America today.

Pageantry is my microphone with which I spread this message. Over the past year, I've used the International crown and sash to reach out to thousands of children in schools, day camps, hospitals, clinics, shelters, and recreation centers in Maryland, Virginia, & DC as a spokesperson for the AHA’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation. I was awarded the “Presidential Gold Service Award” from President Obama for having completed over 250 hours of service this year!
As Miss Teen East Coast, I plan to reach out to thousands more children in at least 12 more states (one per month is my minimum goal) to tell them how lucky they are to have the choice to take care of their hearts and show them that they are not alone in their struggle to lead a healthy lifestyle. I lead by example, showing children that, under the crown and sash, is a normal teenager who they can relate to. I’m not afraid to stand in front of children and teens and tell them that I’m not perfect. I struggled with the freshman 15(actually 20), had braces for 4 years, and have to work hard every day to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Last fall I broke my foot and was in a cast to my knee, immobilized, for almost 4 months. Unable to exercise and surrounded by so many unhealthy food choices every day at the dining hall at school, I gained the “freshman 20” which had a huge impact on my self-esteem and happiness. Since I got my cast taken off in December, I’ve realized more than ever before how important eating a healthy, balanced diet, while not depriving myself, getting enough sleep, and keeping up with regular exercise is, not only to stay healthy and look good, but to feel good too!

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation was founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation and receives support from many influential people including CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I also hope to partner with this summer to help expand my efforts. The Alliance’s goal is to reduce childhood obesity by 2015 by working to make change in homes, schools, restaurants, doctor's offices and communities and to empower children and teens to make healthy lifestyle choices, so it fits perfectly with my own personal mission! Also, the Alliance will be setting up panels throughout the country on this initiative which hopefully I will be able to help with in some capacity.

As a spokesperson for the Alliance this year, I organized two fundraisers, met and lead events with Washington Redskins football players and cheerleaders and spoke in front of large groups of children multiple times at the famous Lincoln Theatre in DC as well as the Imagine Summer Camp program. I also volunteered at the Annual Heart Ball, lead multiple walks and runs, participated in activities and events that actively taught children how to live healthy, and so much more! I am so excited to see where my platform takes me this year, as it is currently a huge topic nationally. Our first lady, Michelle Obama, has even taken up the issue of childhood obesity and health as her own personal platform and I hope to work with her and the Alliance together to end this epidemic!