Thursday, September 29, 2011

Keeping Teens Tobacco Free

Hello everyone! 
Fall is in the air and school is in full swing! I have been very busy talking with my peers and fellow students on how to become tobacco free. 

Over 23% of all North Dakota teens are current tobacco users. I have been working to encourage all teens to take the necessary steps to becoming tobacco free. The first step is finding support because nobody is perfect and everyone needs a little help!! There are several ways to find support: family, friends, peers, nicotine patches, quit lines and so muck more!

Teens need to know that tobacco is not worth their time and there are so many alternatives!  

The choice between wanting to become tobacco free and becoming tobacco free is the drive of knowing you are working not only to better your life and health but improving the lives of everyone you know and encounter on a daily basis. 

So teens, be smart, don’t start!! Think of your future, family and friends before choosing to smoke that first cigarette or that one hit of tobacco. 

I am very excited to be making school visits next week to read to a few kindergarten classes and speak a little about being a beauty queen!!! I cant wait!

Until next time,
Emily Carson

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How can I help?

Recently, I have been getting numerous questions from other people surrounding what they can do to combat human trafficking. In the past I have explained several different ways to prevent and identify a victim of human trafficking, so now I want to share with you a few things that anyone can do on a personal level to make a difference and join the fight against modern day slavery. Even though they are a variety of different ways a person can help, the six steps to taking action I am going to discuss include: advocate, connect, volunteer, raise awareness, fundraise, and attend. 

Advocate – Human trafficking affects every community, no matter size or location. Effective legislation is key and you can follow what your state is doing at the following website:  http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action/advocate. You can take action by joining thousands of people across the country that are taking steps in their area to end modern day slavery. 

Connect – There are many non-profit and governmental organizations that have been established to fight against modern day slavery. Just to name a few, International Justice Mission (IJM), Polaris Project, Not For Sale Campaign, and the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP). In order to stay informed it is beneficial to stay plugged in to the online community as well as having access to the most current online actions. 

Volunteer – When different programs are being held in your area dealing with human trafficking, you can make a difference by just showing up and volunteering. If you feel you want to take it a step further there are opportunities through organizations, such as the ones I listed above, for you to go on mission trips to other countries, volunteer in the offices of these organizations, or apply to a fellowship program. There are always fundraising events taking place and there is always the need for people to help make these events successful. 

Raise Awareness – A person can raise awareness firstly by being an activist and spreading the message of why modern day slavery needs to be defeated. You could inform people by writing a letter in the local newspaper to your editor and highlighting the cause and what people can do to prevent it from happening to themselves. Many schools, colleges, and books stores have book clubs. There are several books that focus on this issue, start a book club focusing on books pertaining to modern day slavery, meet and have discussions on the books. You could also plan a movie night, whether it is at a church, on campus, or in your home, depending how large you anticipate your audience to be. Refer to the following website for a list of documentaries, films and news investigations that have been released pertaining to modern day slavery. http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action/raise-awareness/plan-a-movie-night

Fundraise – This goes hand in hand with volunteering and raising awareness. You can fundraise by hosting an event, such as a movie night. Other options include having a garage sale, bake sale, and auction, or raise funds by dedicating a race or sporting event to the cause. Above all, be creative and make sure to advertise where the funds raised will be going to, whether it is a non-profit you are working with or a specific group of people you want it to go to. There is also the option to collect clothes or shoes that are in good condition that can be supplied to a local shelter that is housing victims. The sky is the limit when looking at different fundraising opportunities. 

Attend – Maybe the case is that you just want to learn more about what modern day slavery is, I than would encourage you to attend an event pertaining to this issue. This way you can learn more about human trafficking but also connect with other people who may have the same interests as you. 

These are just a few ways for people to take a step up, make a difference and combat human trafficking. The options of what people can do on an individual basis are endless. If you would like more information or ideas of how you can bring change take a look at the following websites: http://www.ijm.org/get-involved, http://www.polarisproject.org/take-action,  http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/action/, and  http://www.itemp.org/whatyoucandonow.html. Together, we can end slavery in our lifetime!

 Yours truly,
 Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover”

Maybe not all of us but quite a few people are familiar with the American Proverb “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” This is a very pertinent statement, particularly when meeting new people for the first time. Personally, I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories, however I have learned that there is often much more to each person than what appears at the surface.  At an appearance recently, I was reminded of why it is so important to not assume things about other people before you have had a chance to get to know them.  

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in an event featuring Mission 21 in Rochester, Minnesota. Mission 21 is a women’s shelter that takes in women who have been victims of human trafficking. As I have said before and will continue to remind people, human trafficking is the second largest leading criminal industry in the world and we do not want it to become the first leading criminal industry. At the event, my job consisted of helping with the Not For Sale Campaign’s booth by handing out information and informing people about human trafficking and working the arts and crafts area. It was so great to see so many diverse people of all different ages coming together for this one cause. 

While at the event, I talked to many different people but it was one girl in particular who made a significant impact on my life that day. A young girl, very full of life, came up to the Not For Sale Campaign’s booth and started asking me questions about my crown and what it was like to be a beauty queen. She then proceeded to tell me how she has always wanted to compete in a pageant and dreamed of being a beauty queen. I told her that if this was something she has always wanted to do she needed to do it, whether it is a year from now or five years down the road. 

As the event was nearing towards the end, an adult woman came up to the booth to collect some of the handouts we had available regarding human trafficking. She had an extreme interest in the topic and proceeded to say that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by another girl who was younger than her. Anytime I hear that news my heart sinks and I want to help, the ironic part about this story was that her daughter who had been sexually abused turned out to be the little girl I had talked to earlier who wanted to be a beauty queen. 

To be honest, I know nothing else about the situation besides what I was told that day. However, when I met that little girl I could have assumed that something was wrong with her but instead I treated her how she deserved to be treated, with respect. If I would have known she had been sexually assaulted would have that changed my perspective of her, I would hope not. Too often in life we judge people based on certain life circumstances or based on how they look. It is obvious to me now that this little girl has not had the easiest life and as she gets older she might have other life challenges that she will face. If I could go back in time and tell her one thing knowing what I know now it would be to not let her past define her and to not be afraid to move forward in life. 

Next time you are introduced to someone new, remember to not judge them, get to know more about them instead. You never know who you are going to meet throughout your lifetime, which is the beauty of life.   

Yours truly,
Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011 




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Life After Nationals

Hello! August was somewhat of a relaxing schedule for me while settling in after my long week at the national competition in Chicago! I had an wonderful time and met some lifelong friends. It was an experience of a lifetime. 


I am also busy with the start of school and cheerleading season!!! I have had the chance to visit a few schools including my high school of BHS, to talk about how to become tobacco free and why teens should become and remain tobacco free. I am so excited to share more with you guys and hope you enjoy the pictures!!

Until next time,
I’m Emily Carson Miss Teen ND 2011