Amber with her crown and trophy, after winning the title of Young American PreTeen Miss International.Photo credit: Marcusphotog
So much more than a beauty contest:
Amber’s write-up of her amazing time in Texas
You will Amber from all of the incredible awareness-raising of JIA that she has been doing throughout this year. She has shared her story with us, created amazing videos to raise awareness of JIA and uses every opportunity to show just how important it is for the world to know that children and young people can get arthritis. This summer, Amber was part of something truly special and she has written about her experience for us here.
I’ve been competing in pageants since the age of 5. Pageants have given me confidence, given me a friendship group all across the UK, and given me opportunities to spread awareness of Juvenile Arthritis which I’m now able to do across the world with my International title.
When you enter pageants, you choose a ‘platform’…a cause or charity close to your heart, something you want to spread awareness of or raise funds for. Some pageant systems have their own dedicated platforms/charities whilst others are down to your own choice of what matters most to you. One of the reasons I chose “Young European International Miss” as a pageant system was because you choose your own platform/charity. Having been diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis 3 years ago, this was an easy choice for me and spreading awareness of the symptoms is very important to me. In my own case, it took 9 months for me to get diagnosed and I know that low awareness causes delays in diagnosis for a lot of other children and young people too.
In February this year, I competed in the European heat of “Young European International Miss” with Juvenile Arthritis as my platform. I worked really hard on social media to promote awareness of JIA and raising money for JIA charities by doing things such as holding fayres, raffles, and doing sponsored walks. I could hardly believe it when I won the European title of “Young European PreTeen Miss International”. This meant I had just 4 months to prepare for Internationals in Texas, USA. In that time I continued to spread awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and recognising symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis including this video I made in advance of going to Texas.
To have the opportunity to compete in America in the capital of pageantland was such an honour and to represent not only your country, but also Europe, was a dream come true. The competition was spread over 5 days. The first day was registration and orientation so we got a chance to meet all the other contestants. The next day was my interview with a judging panel. This was our opportunity to discuss our platform and for judges to get to know our personality. Prior to interview, you submit a live application which gives the judges an idea of what you’ve been doing in the lead up to Internationals. Our other scored rounds were: on stage question (which could be absolutely anything chosen at random); national wear (I was a proud Scottish bagpiper); evening gown round; and fashion wear round. We also had a few themed parties; One was a space theme and the other was jungle themed. They were so much fun and another chance to spend time with other contestants! The girls in my age category had all taken some gifts for each other from their home country and it was so much fun exchanging these. I included the stickers and bookmarks which I had received from Juvenile Arthritis Research along with some Scottish goodies in my gift pack to the other contestants. The final competition day was results and crowning day. In between rounds we also had pool parties which were amazing as the pool was up on the rooftop with incredible views of the city!
I had gone to Texas feeling lucky to even be given the opportunity to compete in America of all places! I had gone with the dream of placing in the top 5. Not only did I place top 5 but I also won the overall title! My new title is “Young American PreTeen Miss International” and I’m so so proud of it! I will now represent this system for the next year and will continue spreading awareness of Juvenile Arthritis at every opportunity. You can follow me on Facebook at Amber Marshall Pageant Page or on Instagram at @yamipreteenamber.
Amber continued to raise awareness of JIA between competition rounds at the pageant with a bespoke T-shirt we created for her.Photo credit: Emma Marshall
The back of Amber's T-shirt read "Aspire to Inspire" - the motto of the pageant. Amber certainly is an inspiration to many.Photo credit: Emma Marshall
Amber with her new title of Young American PreTeen Miss International.Photo credit: Emma Marshall
Amber in her Scottish bagpiper outfit at the pageant in Texas.Photo credit: Marcusphotog
Amber was front-page news in her local newspaper, celebrating her achievements.(c) The Johnstone and Renfrewshire Gazette.
Amber's local newspaper dedicated a double-page spread to tell people about her awareness-raising work, and her success at the international pageant in Texas.(c) The Johnstone and Renfrewshire Gazette.