HIGH HOPES - Jennifer Robitaille won the title of Miss Teen Central Alberta earlier this year. She heads to Toronto next month to compete in the Miss Teen Canada pageant.

The journey continues for Miss Teen Central Alberta

Young woman also working to support Canadian Blood Services

July is approaching fast and brings with it a trip to Toronto for a local Central Alberta girl for the Miss Teen Canada pageant.

Jennifer Robitaille, 18, said she got involved with the Miss Teen Central Alberta pageant when a friend told her about it, and it continued from there.

“I hadn’t really ever thought about pageants but once I heard about it I thought it was worth a try. It’s so much fun now and you meet all sorts of people,” said Robitaille.

She won the title of Miss Teen Central Alberta at a pageant held in Calgary in March and is now one of 13 contestants headed to Toronto who are representing different locations in the province.

Robitaille is currently attending Red Deer College to obtain her Bachelor of Education degree so she can become an elementary school teacher.

“I love little kids — they’re sweet and I want to work to inspire them.”

She will start her second year of the program in September and then continue at the University of Alberta in September 2013 for another two years to complete the program.

Meanwhile, each contestant has to choose a platform to present during the pageants and Robitaille said her choice was an easy one because of a near-death experience she had as a newborn.

“When I was three days old I was diagnosed with meningitis septicaemia and a rare bleeding disorder. My parents were told I likely wouldn’t survive and that I was in desperate need of blood transfusions.”

She received the transfusions, which ultimately saved her life and has now taken an active role with Canadian Blood Services to promote awareness for the importance of becoming a blood donor.

“My goal is to get 25 donors but it’s really hard because a lot of people are afraid of needles. I have donated now and I’d rather do that than get the flu shot, it’s just a little poke really.”

Robitaille is volunteering with Canadian Blood Services right now and has done speeches around town presenting her platform to organizations including the Rotary Club.

“The need for blood is constant and I feel we can all make a difference by taking one hour out of our busy lives to donate. One in two Canadians are eligible to donate blood but last year only one in 60 did.”

She said people should look at donating blood as if it were their child or family member that needed the transfusion.

Robitaille said she is excited to take her platform and her Miss Teen Central Alberta crown to Toronto to meet some new people and take part in the pageant.

“I’ve read some of the blogs from people who were involved last year and they all talk about their roommates and how much fun they had so I’m really looking forward to that.”

She takes off to Toronto on July 18 and will be there for eight days while training for and competing in the Miss Teen Canada pageant.

Robitaille has been involved in the community previously through her experiences with 4H which she took part in for five years.

“I also play piano and I will be using that as my talent in the pageant. There’s also an academic portion to the pageant which is an essay writing competition, and I think I’ll do that.”

She said she would highly encourage young women to get involved in pageants because of the opportunities it provides and the self confidence that it builds.

“Even if you don’t win the pageant it’s worth a try and you’ll always have the friends you make.”

To donate blood on behalf of her cause visit Canadian Blood Services and register as a partner for life under her ID number: JENN012888.

For more information on Robitaille’s journey visit her blog at www.missteencentralalberta.com.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com