Community

Crowning achievement for local advocate

South Surrey teen Ashley Brooks, 18, was crowned the first-ever Ms. Vancouver last month. - Contributed photo
South Surrey teen Ashley Brooks, 18, was crowned the first-ever Ms. Vancouver last month.
— image credit: Contributed photo

A South Surrey anti-bullying advocate has been named the first-ever Ms. Vancouver.

Ashley Brooks’ crowning achievement came Nov. 24 after seven months of vying for the title of Vancouver Television’s Ms. and Mr. Vancouver Pageant, while also sharing her story of being bullied when she was in middle school.

“The second I won, (the bullies) crossed my mind for a second, and I felt in my heart that I did it. I actually did it. It was the best moment of my life,” the 18-year-old said.

“Since I’ve won the title, I’ve been falling asleep with a smile on my face every night, and when I see my crown and my sash every morning, “I’m reminded of how hard I worked and regardless of what people said, I followed my heart and I chased my dreams.”

The months-long journey included a fundraiser benefitting BC Children’s Hospital in September that the Earl Marriott Secondary grad organized as part of the community-service aspect of the pageant, as well as a minute-long speech she gave in front of judges and the audience, introducing herself and explaining her journey.

“I probably read my speech 300 times, and it worked out really well. I didn’t miss a beat,” she said.

A large portion of Brooks’ journey has been her experience with bullying while living in Manitoba.

In July, Brooks shared that story with the Peace Arch News, including feeling ostracized by all her former friends before moving to the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

But instead of allowing the negativity to consume her, Brooks said the experience only made her more determined to face her challenges.

“I felt like those bullies, they motivated me and made me stronger and made me the person that I am today and influenced my actions and how dedicated I feel towards this,” she said.

And now, as Ms. Vancouver, Brooks anti-bullying platform will expand as she takes on the one-year hosting contract she was awarded with the title.

Set to begin this month, Brooks will host events, interview notable names and learn about the behind-the-scenes of broadcast media.

“I can’t wait to see what’s next for me. I’m absolutely ready to take on anything that comes my way.”

Warning signs:

Most children and youth having thoughts of suicide show signs of their distress, although some do not. Some of the changes families and others may see in children and youth who may be at risk for suicide include:

• Talking about suicide or a plan for suicide.

• Saying things like, “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead,” “I shouldn’t have been born,” “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” or “It’s no use.”

• Making statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness.

• Complaining of being a bad person or feeling “rotten inside,” refusing help or feeling beyond help. Not tolerating praise or rewards.

• Giving away favourite possessions or making a will.

• Being preoccupied with death.

• Showing a loss of interest in pleasurable activities or things they once cared about; always feeling bored.

• Feeling trapped, increasingly anxious, agitated or angry.

• Showing marked personality changes and serious mood changes.

• Withdrawing from friends and family.

• Expressing plans to seek revenge.

• Sleeping all of the time or unable to sleep.

• Showing impulsive behaviours, such as violent actions, rebellious behaviour or running away.

Resources:

• 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

• Youth in BC: 1-866-661-3311 (toll-free); this is an online crisis service where you can chat one-on-one with a trained volunteer 24 hours a day.

• Suicide Prevention Lifeline: A free 24-hour hotline in Canada or the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255.

• Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868.


 

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