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Okotoks teen Toronto-bound for national pageant

Holy Trinity Academy student Claire Padua, 16, is preparing to head across the country to compete for the title of Miss Teen Canada.
Claire Padua, 16, was crowned Miss Teen Calgary in April and is headed to Toronto to compete at the national level this month.

A 16-year-old Holy Trinity Academy student is preparing to head across the country to compete for the title of Miss Teen Canada. 

Claire Padua, who is going into Grade 11 in the fall, is travelling to Toronto to compete for the crown after winning Miss Teen Calgary in the spring. 

"I'm so nervous, but I'm excited," she said. 

Padua was born in the Philippines and moved to Dubai when she was four years old. She competed in pageants there regularly until she moved to Okotoks with her mom in 2017. After the move she took a break, until her mom found a post on Facebook from Calgary Pageants. 

She said she was "totally open to the idea" of competing again, so she began preparing herself. 

In April, she was crowned Miss Teen Calgary, which qualified her for the national competition in Toronto, from Aug. 15-20. 

"I have this opportunity to have a bigger platform than me as a normal student would have," she said of her current title. 

Miss Teen Canada will see young women from every province compete in interview, evening gown, athletic wear and public speaking categories throughout the preliminary and final contests. 

The teenager said she is practising common pageant questions and writing content relevant to people her age in preparation. Padua also keeps track of current events as part of her advocacy. 

"To be a title holder you do need to be aware of what's going on," she said. 

Padua is also active in the Calgary and Okotoks communities, serving lunch at the city's drop-in centre, riding a float in the Okotoks Parade and helping out the staff at Okotoks' McDonald's during McHappy Day. 

During her reign, the 16-year-old hopes to find success in a program she developed called 'Happy Kids,' which aims to work with youth on building confidence, connection and conversation, something she said pageants have given her. 

"Pageantry gave me more relationships, more friendships, more opportunities opening up for me," Padua said. 

After having left the world of pageants for some time, Padua said she is now confident she will remain in the competitive sphere moving forward. She also hopes to branch off into modelling. 

Though physical appearance is considered throughout the judging process, the pageant queen said it is about much more than looks. 

"It's not really what you wear, it's more about how you show yourself and that you maximize the outfit – you're confident, just how you put yourself out there," she said. 

If Padua is successful in making it to the top-five contestants, she will be faced with a live question and answer period, an opportunity for her to show her confidence and public speaking and success in using her platform for good. 

Alongside 'Happy Kids', Padua works to bring attention to body positivity and self-advocacy while attending various events and meeting with different groups. 

In her free time, she enjoys baking and cooking, dancing and reading. Padua keeps her audience updated by posting regularly to the Miss Calgary Teen Facebook Page

While this is her first time competing at this level, she said it feels like a necessary step towards bigger things. 

"I will continue in pageantry no matter the result of nationals," Padua said. "I believe that pageantry will never stray from me." 

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