If there is one thing I love, it is travelling.  Even though I am not certain as to what career I will pursue, I always have the mindset that whatever I chose must allow me the flexibility to travel.  Some beyond exciting news is that the best student travel company in our country, S-Trip! is awarding this years Social Media Queen with a Grad Trip!

For over 35 years S-Trip! has been a leader in student travel providing life-changing trips to over 40,000 students annually in over 40 destinations around the world. S-Trip! travelers are encouraged to become global citizens; opening their eyes to new cultures, languages, and experiences. Recently named Profit Magazine’s 25th fastest growing company in Canada, and recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies by Deloitte and CIBC, S-Trip! is a leader in student travel in North America. Find out more at www.s-trip.com.

Dreaming up my vision of the perfect Grad Trip, I picture myself boarding a plane to the exotic Costa Rica.  For as long as I can remember, I have been craving a vacation to this humid, wild, and vibrant country.  Packing my seven day vacation with the experiences of a lifetime to remember forever as the final farewell of our graduating class is the kind of magic the S-Trip! community creates.

Riding the Waves! (www.s-trip.com)

Excursion options on the Viva Costa Rica Grad Trip  include the one and only chance to take surfing lessons at Tamarindo Beach  followed by a whole day to master your skills.  I feel that S-Trip offers the perfect environment to try this thrilling sport I’m sure I wouldn’t be brave enough to try on my own.  With my best friends by my side and the adventurous staff of S-Trip! encouraging us, it would make a day we could never forget!

Into the Jungle (www.s-trip.com)

Another excursion I could not miss out on is the Borinquen Jungle Adventure!  We live in Canada, and we all know there is no chance of the word “jungle” to be used in description of our various temperate terrains. I can already hear the song of the rainbow feathered birds and the creaks of entangled branches as they give in to support the weight of swinging monkeys.  Sweet fragrance from bright leaved flowers and the cool drops of water dripping from leaf to leaf… ah, paradise.  The day begins with a mountain climb on horse back and continues with zip line after zip line to bring you back down to enjoy an original Costa Rican meal and tour of one of the most active volcanoes in the world!  Sounds like my kind of day!

Cloud Nine (www.s-trip.com)

Between adrenaline pumping treks, the beach will provide a safe haven to soak up the sun, toss around a frisbee and sink our toes into the salty sand.  Growing closer to the friends I spent the past four years with… years of embarrassing, self seeking, and proud moments,  I know S-Trip! would be something to reminisce on years later at our various reunions. Who knows?  There is a great chance that during my days and nights in Costa Rica I would meet many new extravagant people, and even pick up a little Central American styled spanish! There is no true predicting how amazing an S-Trip! Grad Trip would be, but I have a very, very strong intuitive feeling that it would be one free from any type of regret.

 

One final admiration I have towards the well put together S-Trip! Grad Trip is that I would have the opportunity to spend a day volunteering in a Costa Rican community.  Although I know I would love all of the wild excursions Viva Costa Rica has to offer, there is no greater feeling than that of being able to give back.  The S-Trip! travellers are welcomed into a local school where we can join a game of soccer, help with any repairs the school may need, and become fast friends the warm hearted children in this country far away from our home.

A well rounded vacation rewarded to a very deserving delegate, I look forward to the announcement of the lucky winner and will be shamelessly hoping, hoping, hoping it will be me!  Thank you to S-Trip! for this generous prize to be rewarded to this years Social Media Queen!

S-Trip! takes student travellers on unforgettable adventures around the world. Celebrate the exciting conclusion of high school in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica or Bahamas with all your friends on Grad Trip. Spend a weekend skiing or snowboarding at one of Canada’s premier mountain resorts on Ski Trip. Experience culture, sightseeing and events in Montreal or Quebec City on Busaway. Make a difference in an underdeveloped country on an impactful student Volunteer Trip. Explore the culture and history of Europe on Euro Adventure. For more information visit www.s-trip.com.

Justine

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Walking down Main Street Moose Jaw these past few days at the annual “Sidewalk Days” festival, I was cocooned into a realm of vibrant energy.

Welcome!

Dancing to the rhythm of the buskers, radios, jazz band, or on stage performers- consumers weaved through sale rack upon sale rack.  Tiny painted faces gazed in awe at the various  Superhero and Princess characters roaming the road.

I blushed as these same tiny faces stopped in their tracks at the sight of my crown and wondered if I was a real life Princess before them.  Adding to their sugary collection of cotton candy & mini donuts, I offered suckers and exchanged names and warm smiles with many future beauty queens of the South Central region.

The Hibiscus Boutique

My home base was at The Hibiscus Boutique, a  sponsor of mine whose fashionista-fueled staff and I have enjoyed countless games of dress up while finding the perfect outfits to flaunt during my time in Toronto.  With the duty to wander throughout the crowd and hand out coupons to draw attention in toward the store, I had a wonderful time visiting with the people of our city.  Much like my Canada Day adventures, I came across many who had seen my name in the paper and were excited to meet me in person.  Posing for multiple photos requested by my new acquaintances, it was odd to get used to others being excited enough to have met me that they wanted a picture to show it off!

I enjoyed taking the advantage of being able to share with more and more people the ins & outs to the Pageant, including the importance of a platform.  Spreading the word about the efforts I have made and the passion I have to bring awareness to Spinal Muscular Atrophy is what I believe to be the key ingredient into being someone they will not forget.  If even just one of the various persons I introduced my platform to joins the next SMA fundraiser they hear about- I will feel successful.

MJ Cyclists

One man I met whom I personally will not forget, goes by the name of Anas Cheema.  From Pakistan, he is currently a fourth year student at the University of Victoria.  On a very unique mission, he left the island 19 days ago and began his journey cycling across Canada in order to bring awareness and raise money for SOS Children’s Villages.  While speaking with him, I shared my platform and we discussed some fundraising techniques that soon led into a very humble conversation.  While I can not imagine the mental and physical strength it takes to cycle across a whole country, it was clear he was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Explaining how I raised money for Free The Children and the Families of SMA Canada, he interrupted me by looking me straight in the eye and asking “Was it hard?”

A little shocked, I paused and looked back at him.  This man who I had been silently fan-girling over for his outstanding efforts was seeking advice from me.  Answering a simple “yes,” he released a heavy breathe and confided in me the mental battle he was going through.  Relating to his feeling that he wasn’t working hard enough, that there must be something he could do to bring in more money for the children he wanted to build better lives for, I felt at peace in our conversation and I hope he did to.  Closing with the comforting thought that if he simply meets a thousand people on his journey who each donate just one looney, he will have made $1000- I believe he once again felt that fiery motivation that led him to the open road to begin with.  On his Facebook Page, he posted a photo that reads: I am in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.  That phrase is so simple and so beautiful and so truthful.  Who knew I would have met that man and been able to relate so well?  Who knew that three minute conversation would re-ignite our drive to keep moving forward in our goals and be so soothing to the strained thoughts we each had towards our efforts?

In my very first blog post, I spoke about using this blog to be completely honest with my audience because I believe that is the best thing we as humans can be.  The honesty in my encounter with Anas created a moment I will never forget.  Yes, it is hard to jump out into the world and promote yourself as well as a cause you believe in, but it is absolutely worth it.  If neither of us had taken that risk, neither of us would have met each other or the thousands of others we have and will meet.

Leading a fearless existence with the dare to dream your dreams and create a life you love is the most challenging thing you can do, yet the most rewarding.

Loving life!

xoxo

Justine

 

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I feel that this year’s Canada Day was a day I will never forget as a  title holder.

And so it began...

Teaming up with the Moose Jaw Canada Day Committee, I was invited to join them and lend a helping hand at the Cosmo Centre’s pancake breakfast first thing on the big day.  Circulating throughout the guests, I met many who had read my name in the paper or heard me on the radio and were excited to meet the teenage girl they had seen so much about.  Through casual conversation I was able to really connect with a mass of diverse people, offering some insight into the Pageant as well as my platform, while receiving an overwhelming dose of large smiles, hand shakes, and well wishes on my journey this summer.

Our company

Following the morning ceremony which was complete with speeches from Glenn Hagel, former mayor of Moose Jaw and members from our Armoury and air base, the committee shifted the celebration over to the amphitheatre in Crescent Park.  Here, my task was to spread the cheer by passing out mini flags, tattoos, pins, and bookmarks.  This was another great opportunity to mingle with the community, greet familiar faces and meet many new ones, as well as shamelessly bask in the warm attention the sparkling crown on my head drew in.

Sing it out!

On stage, Glenn once again did a terrific job energizing the audience and introducing each act including local bands and choirs such as the Valley View Community Choir shown in the photo to the right.   I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Hagel called me up on stage to formally introduce me to the audience as a whole and wish me good luck in my endeavours.  I can’t thank the Moose Jaw Canada Day Committee enough for welcoming me into their celebrations and granting me the opportunity to spend the day in the company of so many wonderful people.

Great Grandma & I <3

Drifting over to the water park, I found my Great Grandma, mom, and two little brothers enjoying  the festivities.  Giving my goodbyes, I then set out to hit the road to Regina for the evening (because it would be crazy not to on such a beautiful day).  My wonderful sister-from-another-mister, Shailynn joined me and we met up with some friends to spend the evening strolling around Wascana Lake with thousands of others.  Loud music, sweet ice cream, and a sea of red and white where the perfect remedy, soothing any nerves I had about the big day coming up.   Canada is an outstandingly beautiful, peaceful, and free country that each and every one of us is blessed to live in.  The fact that I have been chosen to compete in a national competition that will reward the winner with the title of representing the whole country is simply amazing.  As I sat shoulder to shoulder with my fellow friendly Canadians, I gazed in awe at the fireworks and began to relate them to where I am in my life right now.  Surprising their audience, painting the sky flashes of vibrant colour, and basking in their moment, those fireworks are just like the Miss Teen’s I have met so far and look forward to meeting this summer.  It will be over too soon, but completely worth all of the effort and risk into making it happen.

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

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AH, summer.

SUMMER!

It’s here, it’s real!

After what I’m sure was the longest winter of my life, there is nothing sweeter than this hot, humid air to demolish any need for socks or sweaters.

Our last day of classes was exactly a week from today, which means that today is the official last day of finals, and I am officially a senior! I started celebrating last Thursday, with a very adorable little girl.  Every year, on the Thursday before the Fair comes to Moose Jaw, there is a Parade to welcome it!

Thanks to Moose Jaw Ford for the hot ride!

With a title to flaunt this year, I was quick to enter to join the Parade.  Moose Jaw Ford was glad to sponsor a car I could really make a statement in, and I was glad to invite a very special guest to join me!  A family friend of ours -that is one of my favourites to babysit ;)- goes by the name Carys, and she is six years old.  Carys is hands down my biggest fan, at the very beginning of my Pageant life I made front page news of the Moose Jaw Times Herald and this very little girl Carys, has carried the article around in her purse ever since she got her hands on a copy!

Our big parade plans threw a quick curveball at the two of us when I received a phone call that the parade had been cancelled due to a never ending, teasing rain.  After hearing the news, Carys was distraught and I knew we had to show that rain who’s boss one way or another.  SO, after returning that gorgeous car to it’s home, I picked up Carys for a Girl’s Night Out!

Silly Shades!

Beginning with some froyo at Tutti Frutti, we had a chance to catch up on some quality girl talk.  Already on Main Street, we spent the next hour or so strolling up and down some of the many cute boutiques Moose Jaw has to offer!  Goofing around with sunglasses, scarves, and blinged out jewelry, the time passed too quickly.  It was one of the greatest feelings to know I could spend this time with Carys and put a beaming smile on her face,  creating an evening neither of us will forget.  Just another one of the many perks to being a title holder!  Maybe one day it will be Carys with the crown, making new memories with one of her favourite little girls.

 

AHHHHH! 😀

We ended the evening with a cruise by the Fair Grounds, to see the magic happen as rides unfolded and shot into the sky.  Before saying our goodbyes, I left Carys with a “Saskatchewan Sweethearts” calendar and she was wide eyed passing through the photos of the Saskatchewan beauty queens.

 

Congratulations!

The next day I was happy to attend my youngest brother’s Kindergarden Graduation celebration!  It was too cute, each one of the star students were shining beneath paper crowns, singing each word and dancing each dance with bursting pride. To say that I am now going to be in Grade 12 is insane, and it makes it even more important to enjoy these Kindergarden moments because before we know it he will be in Grade 12 and I will be into the adult world- both leading extraordinary lives, I’m sure!  I am so excited for the opportunities both of us will come across and all that life has to offer.

Enjoying a bit of the Fair myself- complete with a candy apple- the otherworldly feeling of freedom summer gives had to be brought back down to Earth while I wrote my last two finals Monday and Tuesday morning.  Giving that last bit of effort was tough but here I am, with whole, sunny days to devote to Pageant Preparation!

Ecstatic for the next few weeks of shopping, high-heeled walking, and suitcase packing, it is unreal that in only 17 days I will be leaving for Toronto!

Love today!

xoxo

Justine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Sunday June 16th, 52 people came together in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to raise $1, 130 towards supporting the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada. Read on to discover the ins and outs of this spectacular accomplishment!

What is Spinal Muscular Atrophy?

Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a motor neuron disease which affects the voluntary muscles, impacting abilities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, even swallowing and breathing.  A person with SMA has completely normal intelligence.

  • 1 in 40 people are carriers of the SMA gene.
  • SMA is the #1 genetic killer of Children under the age of 2.
  • SMA can strike anyone of any age, race, or gender.
  • There is currently no treatment or cure.

-Families of SMA Canada Society (FSMAC)

Penny Parade!

Upon arrival, our wonderful guests registered and many made extra,  generous donations.  Receiving an information pamphlet on SMA, a Tutti Frutti coupon and a Penny Parade ticket all tucked into a thank you card, they soon set out to enter for their chance to win one of the fabulous prizes.  All prizes were sponsored, thanks to the following contributors; Saskatchewan Parks & Recreation, Triple Ymobile, Culligan, Double Shift Conditioning, Wrapture, Moose Jaw Fudge Factory, Crystal Prior of Pampered Chef, Cathy Bradford of First Chiropractic & Wellness, Superstore and Windmill Greenhouses.

Here comes the sun!

After stretching it out and settling in to each others company, we set out on our journey. With a 70% chance of rain, our faithful fifty guests were determined to Walk & Roll despite the threatening skies. Purple and orange balloons danced in the air around us, drawing the attention we desired in order to promote our rise against the cruel and persistent thief of so many young lives.

I am truly so grateful for all of the previous sponsors as well as the big, open hearts of our guests because without this collaboration in our community- none of this would have been possible!  I was thrilled to see the interest in the people who are relatively alien to the SMA community and their willingness to learn more and support this important cause.   A vital aspect to the fundraiser was the interest in the Moose Jaw Times Herald reporter, Austin Davis who joined us to share with the community what our event was all about. Speaking with the father to my dear friend Shailynn Taylor -who was diagnosed with SMA at eighteen months and presently attending a major SMA Conference in California- offered an interesting truth on the effect  of the Walk & Roll for our community.

It gets a whole different group of people. If you go to an SMA conference then there’s people but they’re all involved with the disease,” Taylor said. “Here, it’s a bunch of people that lead a whole different lifestyle and it kind of puts it in perspective for them. It raises awareness and gets people thinking about it.

“Rolling toward a cure” by Austin M. Davis of the Moose Jaw Times Herald

All giggles

Also featured in the article was the Lavalee family- Max, Genvieve, and mom Andrea, who is mimicking the pageant stance she has caught me flaunt a time or two- cracking smiles on all of our faces.   I met this wonderful family at the Muscular Dystrophy Youth Conference in Saskatoon.  After connecting with Andrea, I knew I had to invite this lovely crew to join us at our Walk & Roll.  A firm believer in the importance of teaching Max, 8, the need to self advocate and understand the support different communities have to offer, she quickly agreed to make the long drive down from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan to participate.  Thanks to the Temple Gardens Spa & Hotel, the Lavalee family was welcomed into Moose Jaw with a complimentary stay to relax from their long drive and afternoon of outdoor fun.

Family Fun

From Butterflies to Tigers to Daisies, the faces of our fundraisers were transformed into those of a more colourful nature.  The idea of getting together, learning something new, and raising awareness to a deserving cause is what the Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy Canada Organization is all about.  Driven by self- motivated Families of SMA in our country, they are a non-profit group focused on supporting each other and funding research to find a cure for this lurking disease.  I can not begin to express the way becoming involved with this organization has not only changed my life, but changed the life of my sister-from-another-mister, Shailynn Taylor as well.  Without the support of FSMAC, Shailynn would not have had the opportunity to attend conferences such as the one in Saskatoon as well as Disneyland.  These conferences are vital, as they offer the tools needed to live a more independent life as well as the opportunity to undergo trial treatments required to one day find a cure for SMA.

While planning the Walk & Roll event at first seemed intimidating and overwhelming, I learned quickly the importance of simply accomplishing at least one task day that will help me reach my goal.  Progressing in baby steps can make any dream become a reality with the right level of perseverance,  dedication, and optimism.

These fundraising events are the baby steps to bringing broader awareness and proper research required to find a cure to heal the bodies of the Shailynn, Max, and thousands of others in need.

I would like to leave you with a Thank You from the very bottom of my heart for taking the time to read about SMA and hear our voice.  I encourage you to watch the heart-string-tugging video of Stella: An SMA Story.

 

 

 

 

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Michael Bublé is a Britsh Columbian native who has become an extremely successful Canadian artist, bringing home three Grammys and multiple Juno Awards. Wed to supermodel Luisana Lopilato, they are a couple impossible not to adore.  Expecting a baby this August, excitement is building in Canada for the reveal of a new addition to the family.

Glowing

Beaming with love, they are a couple anyone can relate to, and everyone wants to be.  Is it possible they are the ideal face for advertising the unique Canadian- run business, Signature Towels? I believe so!  I have created the perfect vision for a 30 second commercial featuring the Bublé’s that is sure to be a break through in the industry of marketing specialized towels.

 

Lookin' good- only thing missing is a Signature Towel

 

Scene 1: Opening up with a shot of the couple out for a jog in the early morning, the chorus of “It’s A Beautiful Day” by Bublé is playing into their headphones, becoming the catchy tune of the ad.    Luisana’s pregnant body tires out and she stops to wipe her brow with a personalized towel.

 

Scene 2: The shot will then cut quickly to a scene of the couple each reaching a hand out of the shower to grab their His & Hers Signature Towels.

Scene 3: Short and sweet clips showcase the duo get ready for their day by dancing around a hotel, dressing up very elegant for a very important event.  A clip of their calendar reveals they are going to the 2013 Juno Awards in Regina, Saskatchewan!

True Canadians

Scene 4: Arriving on the red carpet, bombarded with flashing cameras and bright lights-the heat builds up and the camera picks up the sweat beading down their foreheads.

Scene 5: Backstage, they reach into their bags to find their one and only Signature Hand Towels and are thankful to have a piece of home to sooth their nerves.

Scene 6: Showcasing Michael’s performance as host of the 2013 Juno Awards, the camera follows him backstage where he once again is relieved to find a towel with his name on it.

Scene 7: Michael finds his wife fanning off the frenzied Carly Rae Jepson who has just received a Juno.  Congratulating Carly, he then offers a laugh at the situation of Luisana fanning Carly.  Carly claims the towel has been a gift from the Heavens and jokes about how she can’t believe she doesn’t have one of these yet.  The couple give each other a knowing look.

Special Delivery!

Scene 8: The commercial wraps up with a reveal of Carly receiving her own personalized bath robe from Michael & Luisana, giving a final wink into the camera.

Scene 9: The Bublé’s open their door to a package from Carly with a note on top reading “To sooth each frenzied moment,” inside is a complete towel set specialized for their baby.

Perfect Runaway Spot

Using the country trails here in Saskatchewan for the opening scene and the Temple Gardens Spa here in Moose Jaw as the hotel will create a unique environment to create each scene and set.  Elegant structures throughout the hotel can be transformed to red carpet beauty, backstage areas, and of course the concert clip through the smoke and mirrors magic of the cameras and some simple set design.

 

Shining with Success

Mr. Bublé and his wife have the magnetism to draw the attention of consumers of all ages and genders.  Featuring Carly Rae Jepson will be a catch to the commercial that brings even more intrigue into the product these influential artists are presenting!  I believe that  each aspect to this idea has potential to pull together to something fantastic.

Leaving the audience with the inspiration to give the gift of a specialized towel will surely boost the industry of embroidered towels to be the new must-have item.

 

In closing,  I would like to thank  Signature Towels for their generous sponsorship of the third Miss Teen Canada World Blog Assignment.

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