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The world of teen pageants is nothing like you think according to 15-year-old Vancouver winner

Amy He was crowned Miss Teenage Vancouver

"To be honest Miss Teenage BC was my first pageant,” says Amy He coyly over the phone.

The 15-year-old Vancouver resident took home the title of Miss Teenage Vancouver 2022 at the annual pageant that was held back in May.

“I started preparations around the summer of last year,” she says of the process. After passing an online interview to be accepted into the pageant spent a lot of time practicing how to walk in heels and watching videos about what to expect as well as preparing for the pageant interview that be marked. "I also spent time working out my platform."

Every participant is asked to choose a platform or a topic with which to compete, it needs to be some sort of philanthropic or social enterprise that contestants wish to bring more awareness to. He chose children's health care and well-being. "In the past, I've done a lot of volunteer work surrounding that and it's a topic that I'm really passionate about," she says. Although she admits she was surprised at the amount of philanthropy involved with pageants. 

"That's something that I didn't know before I started doing it. And a bunch of my friends and new people when they find out I’m Miss Teenage Vancouver, they ask me what the pageant is like they don't expect to hear about volunteering."

He had to complete volunteer hours related to her platform in preparation for the pageant and having secured a crown she now qualifies for the nationals in Toronto this summer. "Once you qualify for nationals and you get a title you're expected to use that title to attend events and volunteer and help out your community," she explains. "You fundraise for your positions in order to gain more points, for example, the official organization that we have to fundraise for for Nationals is called Make a Wish. So I've been attending a lot of events with my title and volunteering and also fundraising." He started a project called “Garden of Wishes” which sells flowers donated to her by various individuals in Vancouver to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.

He was also surprised by the other women and girls competing in the pageant, and how far removed the experience was from stereotypical movies and television. "All of them were unique in their own ways," she says admiring their independence and careers outside of pageantry. "They worked in STEM, they were lawyers, and they were stepping out of their comfort zone to try pageants too and I felt like that really inspired me."

Outside of pageants, He has a lot going on. This summer alone she is preparing for her level 10 piano exam, a music theory exam, and a level 8 ballet exam before going into grade 10 of high school in September.

She also skis and is on a rowing team as a coxswain. "A few months ago, I picked up Wushu, which is a type of Chinese martial arts with different weapons," she adds. "It's a really fun experience because I feel like, especially with COVID, I haven't been able to go back home to China to experience more of my culture and that feels kind of distancing from my other family."

"Wushu has made me feel closer to my culture and my tradition and I actually want to perform Wushu in the national pageant’s talent show even though I haven't been learning it for that long," she says.

Like any teenager, He says she does occasionally struggle to balance everything she's doing plus school. "I get stressed easily," she shares. "I will start procrastinating and watch YouTube or play video games to try and relax but because I've spent that time procrastinating I get more stressed. So that's a cycle that sometimes happens."

However, He says she's able to break out of the cycle and get back on track by leaning on her mom and dad. "When I'm stressed I would go sit with them and have a cup of tea and talk about my frustrations. They really help me work out a plan to get back into being productive," she says.