Twelve years ago, my father was murdered in our convenience store in Alexandria, Virginia. I was 12 years old at that time and my brother was just 7. Within a month of everything, we packed every part of our lives up and moved to Ohio. Not only did I have to deal with the loss of my dad, I was bullied for two years in school.
With the support of positive role models, my life began turning in a positive direction six years after my dad’s passing away. I ended up finding two programs designed for grieving families. I was ecstatic.
Cornerstone of Hope is an organization in Ohio designed to be a haven for grieving children and families. After researching their program, and from my own experience, I created another program called Cornerstone of Hope. It’s based off of three main pillars that I think are really important:
- Positive self-esteem
- Positive outlook on life
- Education, ways of creative outlet for expression
I created an activity book designed for children and young adults, accompanied by an activity manual for adults. The content of the activity book includes various coping activities, a “food for thought” section, inspirational quotes, and a section for journal entries. This program can be used in various settings: school based, private therapeutic, group sessions, or home settings. The unique quality that my program has is that it could be utilized to help with the grieving process, promote awareness to kids in school, and prevent bullying.
My hopes would be one day collaborating with an international program called Rainbows. Rainbows is a program that supports emotional healing among children grieving a loss from a life-altering crisis. I think my program would be a great asset to Rainbows and may be an inspiration to others since it was designed by someone who personally understands these children and has gone through a tragic event. I would like to be a leader to them, someone they can look up to and say, “Hey, if she’s made it this far, so can I!”
I went into the Miss Ohio program having strong feelings about my platform. I didn’t design and promote it only for Miss Ohio, I designed it so I can take it further in the future. The Miss Ohio Program gave me the confidence that I can create something great and take it as far as I want to. If becoming Miss Ohio was not written out for me, I cannot abandon my platform because I know how important it is for those children.
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Source and photo: Priya Sharma, Miss All American City 2012