Hey Burlington! We here at Burlington Lifestyle want to introduce you to our newest community ambassador – Lydia Acharya, Miss Teenage Halton!
Since there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be seeing her around the community over the next while, we thought it would be a good idea for you to get to know her and what she’s all about. She’s anything but typical, as you’ll soon find out.
My name is Lydia Acharya and I am Miss Teenage Halton 2017! I go to the oldest school in Burlington right in the heart of the city, Burlington Central High School, and I am in grade 10.
2. Tell us a little bit about your background
I am a truly global child. My bloodline comes from 5 continents and I lived on the 6th continent of Oceania, in beautiful New Zealand, for 9 years. The only continent I can’t claim is Antarctica, but it’s certainly on my bucket list! I was born in Canada and am the middle child of three (probably why I’m so competitive). When I was 8, I lost my dad to brain cancer, and that has been a very shaping moment of my life. I returned to Canada at the age of 12 and have been living in Downtown Burlington ever since.
3. Why did you decide to enter Miss Teenage Canada?
For months, an advertisement had been floating around on my Facebook, promoting a rich opportunity and a chance to represent my community and get my voice heard through a beauty pageant for teens. I had no background with beauty pageants and had never even considered them before, so for that reason I clicked “read more.” When I began to research what the organization was about, I started to get inspired about the difference these pageant girls were making in their communities. Girls my age were out there raising thousands of dollars for organizations like Cardiac Kids, Free The Children and more, and these girls were meeting famous Canadians and working in partnership with them to create a positive change for their community. I decided, “Why not give it shot?” I signed up and it changed my life!
4. What does your title mean to you?
Receiving the title of Miss Teenage Halton has been one of the most inspiring experiences this year. My title reminds me that I am now representing my community at all times. I now have a stronger voice than I did before, and I can make a difference!
5. What are you passionate about? What is your “platform”?
When my friends, family and community members found out about my pageant journey, I instantly received endless amounts of support. That support enabled me to organize a ball hockey fundraiser for Cardiac Kids in December, raising over $2,500. Local businesses stepped in and helped supply me with my clothes, makeup and hair needs for the pageant. This really showed me how selfless my community really is, and I realized it was my turn to give back. I am passionate about Burlington and the greater Halton community and will volunteer, fundraise, promote it and advocate for it. Teenage mental health is also something I hold close to my heart. When I was 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia, depression and anxiety, and received treatment for over a year. Thanks to my supportive family, I was able to get the help I needed, but I have recognized that not all teens have the same opportunity due to the negative stigma attached. I want to do anything I can to help change that.
6. Who inspires you?
There are so many inspiring and influential individuals who have made tremendous changes in our society and world as we know it, but my role model is much closer to home. When I lost my dad to brain cancer, my mom was left on her own to raise my brother, sister and me in New Zealand, away from family. From the moment she was widowed until now, I have watched her grow into a strong, independent woman, capable of any task she needs to do. She motivates me to overcome any hurdle or setback in life with a strong, positive attitude, and to continue to seek new opportunities in life.
7. How do you see yourself contributing to the community?
Personally, I believe the most important part of having a title is how you make the most of it. I really care about my Burlington and Halton community, and want to make an effort to give back. I want to speak up about teen mental health, starting with being open about my story, and continuing to encourage others to be open about their stories. I also want to volunteer and be a part of local events as much as possible, and I am looking forward to a lot of fundraising and having fun this year.
8. How can the community support you?
I am lucky to have an amazingly supportive community. Burlington makeup artists and hair stylists have already decided to sponsor me for the upcoming Miss Teenage Canada pageant in August, and many other local organizations are planning to work with me. Support comes in all shapes and sizes, and I am appreciative for it all, whether it is sponsoring me with merchandise that I can endorse on my social media, supporting me in organizing fundraisers, or sponsoring me financially to help pay my entry fee to Nationals and more!
9. How do you hope to inspire your community?
I hope that when my community sees me, they realize how much power their own voice has. Being in a pageant has taught me that my opinion about issues affecting me and people I care about matters, and it has also taught me that my voice can make a difference. Before I entered Miss Teenage Canada, I felt I couldn’t do anything to help other teenagers speak up about their mental health, and I felt I could never represent local issues that were important because no one would listen; however, it is truly the opposite. There are so many people in this beautiful, supportive community willing to listen and willing to stand behind you for a good cause. I hope people learn to recognize that their voice is valuable, and that they can make a change, starting right here in Burlington.
10. Who are your sponsors?
11. How can we learn more about you and what you are up to?
I would love to hear from anyone who has any questions, ideas or opportunities! You can follow me on social media to see updates on the work I’m doing this year!
Official Miss Teenage Blog: missteenhaltonregion.com
Teresa Baerg is a writer, editor and self-confessed word-nerd who loves telling a good story. She is proud to call Burlington home for over a decade. She is passionate about her family, sunshine and palm trees, growing veggies, running and cycling, good books, good food and good coffee. And football. Twitter: @teresabaerg Instagram: @teresabaerg Website: teresakbaerg.com
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