What is Food Insecurity?

The day I was crowned I signed on to be a champion of a cause that is near and dear to my heart, fighting to help end childhood obesity. I chose this epidemic as my platform because of what I have seen with my own eyes in my Community, and what I know is going on all over the world. Half of my reign is over, and I’ve already had the chance to meet some great people and organizations dedicated to ending hunger, food insecurity, and childhood obesity. Today I’m blogging about some ways that food insecurity causes more kids in my generation to become obese and deal with their hunger.

So, What is Food Insecurity? – the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food and the anxiety over these food shortages.

Think about it, if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from then you might overeat any chance you get to. Many kids that are homeless look forward to going to school because they know that they will get to eat. Those school lunches that many of us take for granted and even tease about how nasty they taste — well some kids are just happy to get to eat. I’m thinking that is a good reason to support organizations like Let’s Move, that are also pushing for healthier eating and healthy school lunches.

hashtag lunchbag quote

There are others who consistently help homeless and needy people get a healthier meal. The charity I am passionate about volunteering at is called HashtagLunchbagChicago. What I love most is that at least 1000 homeless and hungry people KNOW that they will get to eat lunch every last Saturday of the month. They can count on it! Volunteers get together and make 1000 or more lunches, put them into hand decorated lunch bags, include a hand written message of encouragement–then head into the streets of Chicago to pass out the lunches. We become family and the family grows larger each month as we share it with others. I’m just happy to be able to do something small for people in need. Young people, we can make a difference.

The fear over food shortages can also make people buy less expensive food that isn’t very good for them. They can tend to buy foods with higher calories to avoid dealing with hunger, for example. Also, it’s harder to find a variety of quality and healthy food in poorer neighborhoods. That could explain why poorer kids can become obese and still deal with hunger. I learned that in health class and it’s a huge problem that has more than doubled in the last 30 years. We have to do something about these things. Otherwise, mine will be the first generation to be out-lived by their parents.

What do you think that people of all ages can do in the fight against childhood obesity, hunger, and food insecurity? Please share and thanks for reading my blog. Love, Ciara 🙂


Dance Movement Towards Better Health

team illinois dance rehearsal fun

I’m really liking this blogging thing. It makes me sort out some of the best moments in my life and how my story might inspire others. I haven’t posted in a while since I’ve been so busy with my reign, community service projects, family, school, and trying to have a social life. But, now that I’ve learned a lot about time management, I want to continue blogging to spread awareness about ending childhood obesity and hunger too.

Today I’m sharing something that is a huge passion of mine. Dance! Ever since I could walk, I was a dancer. I kind of think it was my destiny. When it comes to ending childhood obesity, leading an active lifestyle is very important. What better way to get active than using dance movement towards better health. You can start out with simple moves and let the music inspire you. You can take classes to learn a variety of dances. Whatever you like to do, just do it. The Let’s Move initiative says that we teens and kids need at least one hour of activity each day. Our parents and other adults need at least 30 minutes. Dance is a great way to get this activity in.

Of course you can dance around your house and with your friends in the yard, but there are lots of ways to take classes if you love dance like I do. I was blessed to be accepted into the first public performing arts school of Chicago in my freshman year. Being able to dance there was incredible. Then, because of family challenges, I had to transfer to my local High School this year. It was devastating to me, but I refused to give up my passion and dreams. I now dance in one of the many After School Matters programs, designed to help expose teens to what life has to offer.

You can find free programs in your community too. If you need help let me know, leave a comment and I will get back to you. Remember to get at least 1 hour of activity in each day, 30 minutes for my adult readers. Together we can help end childhood obesity! Love, Ciara 🙂 

Sister Queens in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

During my reign as your Miss Junior Teen Illinois United States, I’ve already had some pretty amazing opportunities to make a difference in my community. But, one event I’m really excited about is Stomp the Runway – The Fight Against Childhood Obesity, which is advocating about our Beauty With a Purpose platform, Childhood Obesity Awareness. I have the honor of co-hosting with my sister queen who is also in the fight against childhood obesity, and we invite you to join us for a fun-filled evening for people of all ages. 

Here is some information about the event and I sincerely hope to see you there. If you can’t attend, please contact me to donate a ticket to a young person who might otherwise not be able to come out.

Sister Queens in the Fight to End Childhood Obesity

Sister Queens in the Fight to End Childhood Obesity

 Date Wednesday June 17, 2015 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Admission :: http://stomptherunwaychicago.eventbrite.com/

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the pet charities of each queen:

Jenna Mills – NoKidHungry.org Ciara Evans – Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago

Join Jenna Mills, Miss Iowa World, Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States 2015 – Ciara Evans and Benjamin Cottrell, BENJAMIN COTTRELL DESIGNS for an evening with a great cause on the Rooftop of FFC Lincoln Park with incredible skyline views!

This event supports First Lady, Michelle Obama’s LET’S MOVE! Campaign (www.letsmove.gov), America’s initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids!

The evening will feature an Activewear Fashion Show by Designers:
– Under Armor
– Luxskin Athletic by Richelle Deanna
– SK Threads by Wilbert Williams
– Porta Pocket by Kendra Koll

activewear brands for stomp the runway

The Fashion Show will open with the amazing BODY MOVE DANCE group directed by Regan Farag! Lively music all evening long by our favorite “kid” in town, DJ APPLEJACKZ!

Event Features:
** Keynote speaker, Laureal Arnolin on her total body transformation! **
** Health, Wellness, and Activewear Shopping Vendors **
** Wine Bar by AGED 2 PERFECTION **
** Planting Garden Station by Sponsor HOME DEPOT **
** DRINK UP Station featuring various water Sponsors **
** Gimme Five Station **
** 60 second challenge station **
** Face Paint station **

Doesn’t that sound like fun? We would love your support and hope to see you there. Thanks for dropping by my blog. 🙂 Love, Ciara

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Feeds America’s Hungry

The Letter Carriers’ 23rd annual food drive, Stamp Out Hunger, was held on Saturday, May 9. Letter carriers all over our nation collected non-perishable food donations as they delivered mail along their postal routes. That’s a whole lot of work! In my opinion these letter carriers are heros. Ending childhood obesity, including hunger awareness, is my platform. So, I decided to help the letter carriers this year. Thank goodness for my Miss Illinois United States sister queens, director, and official coaches. The whole team went into action to participate.

Take a look at what we did to help Stamp Out Hunger feed thousands of hungry Americans. 

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive 2015

Have you heard of Stamp Out Hunger? If not, here is what I learned about the community service project.

Fun Facts:

  • It is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
  • Letter carriers like Chevell Evans are honored to be able to help people in need. Mr Evans accepted our donations and helped us get them into his postal van. I loved the really cool and fun t-shirt he wore.

Ciara and Stamp Out Hunger Letter Carrier

  • Hunger affects about 49 million people around the country, including millions of children and senior citizens. And one in four households with a member currently serving in the U.S. military turns to a food bank for food assistance.
  • People are encouraged to leave a bag full of non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.
  • Carriers will bring the food to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with Feeding America, which is a national partner in the drive.

NOTE: If your donation was not picked up, contact your local post office or simply place your donation by your mailbox on Monday instead. – Director of Community Services

When I think about how many children and families will be able to eat because of the food drive, it makes me really happy. Being able to give back to my community is an honor. Have you ever participated in Stamp Out Hunger? If not, will you next year? 

Love, Ciara

Five Easy Ways To Help End Childhood Obesity

Wearing my pretty crown and getting all dressed up is not all I do, as your Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States. It’s about a lot more than that. I’m blessed because I belong to a pageant system that encourages each of us to be a champion for a cause that we are passionate about. My platform is about ending childhood obesity and also stopping hunger. The Miss United States Organization along with Miss World has a ‘Beauty With A Purpose‘ mission that gives us all the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Because my peers are facing an epidemic that can cause some pretty scary diseases, I want to help STOP it. If we can end childhood obesity now, the next generation will have a better chance at life. Here are some facts from the Campaign to End Obesity that kind of scared me:

  • Obesity is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, obese adults are at increased risk for all cancers.
  • Obesity contributes to two-thirds of all heart disease, according to the CDC.
  • 66 percent of American adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese.
  • Over 75 percent of hypertension cases are directly related to obesity
  • More than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Sounds bad right? Well it doesn’t have to be. We can do some things that will eventually help end the epidemic of childhood obesity. I’m a pretty positive girl and I think we CAN do it!

Five Easy Ways To Help End Childhood Obesity

  1. Get Active! It doesn’t have to be a marathon race or basketball game, but just start moving. I dance and that helps to keep me in shape. But, I also have friends who skate, run, walk, do yoga, play tennis and other sports. Even just walking around the mall counts as activity! (just don’t stop for cookies or pizza) The Let’s Move organization recommends 30 minutes of activity a day for grown-ups and 1 hour for us kids. We’re young, we can do it.Dance is a great activity to help end childhood obesity.
  2. Eat Healthier! Now it isn’t easy for most kids to eat healthy without the help of our parents, schools, and programs. But we can make better choices. We can pick fresh fruit over junk food on most days. We can also help cook some of our meals to learn how fresh food is prepared. Then comes the hard part for me, we can pledge not to eat fast food so much. Sorry McDonalds, I said it.
  3. Drink Way More Water! Most of us don’t drink enough water. We stop by the water fountain a few times and call it a day. This one is an easy fix, just drink eight 8-ounce glasses per day.
  4. Learn About Nutrition Labels! We have to read labels and really know what we are putting into our bodies. My aunt told me that if I can’t pronounce it, I shouldn’t be eating it.Let's Move School Garden Checklist
  5. Plant a Garden! This actually sounds fun to me. If we all plant one garden we may even take more pride in eating fresh food. By the end of my reign, I would like to plant at least 1 school garden. Leading by example is the best way to get other kids helping to end childhood obesity.

Quick Water Tip: The health experts commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is very easy to remember. Drink up!

What do you think we should do to help reverse the obesity numbers?

Miss Jr Teen Illinois United States Volunteers at Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago

ciara hashtag lunchbag chicago collage

Hashtag Lunchbag is a humanity service movement dedicated to eliminating hunger in Chicago and across the globe, one lunch bag at a time. All lunches are made and distributed by volunteers. I’m proud to say that I was one of many volunteers who helped to feed over 400 people. I hope to inspire others to help the hungry and the homeless in their community. I know that I was inspired by the team of attorney volunteers from the Black Women Lawyers’ Association who took the time to talk to me and the other girls. They partnered with Hashtag Lunchbag as the Community Service Project during their 2015 National Summit in Chicago.

Did you know that there is a connection between hunger and obesity? Well I learned from some experts that there is! My Miss United States Organization ‘Beauty With A Purpose’ platform is to be a champion in the fight to end childhood obesity. So, I was thrilled when I saw that Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago makes sure that each lunch includes healthier choices like fresh fruit, water, and even lettuce on the sandwiches. When the hungry kids and adults receive a nutritious meal, it really does make a difference.

ciara hashtag lunchbag chicago group shot

Each of us were responsible for helping to decorate 400 lunch bags, making sure to include an inspirational note for each person to read. I really hope that whoever gets my notes will know that someone cares. I put my heart into every single note. I noticed that all of the volunteers wanted to inspire the hungry and homeless people. You could tell by the wonderful notes. It was fun working alongside the attorneys from the Black Women Lawyers’ Association, the kids, the absolutely amazing coordinators and dedicated volunteers. I would especially like to thank Ms. Ebony Jones-Washington, Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago Coordinator and her entire staff for having me.

ciara decorating hashtag lunchbags

This organization believes that everyone has the power to share good deed experiences with friends and followers, and by encouraging them to also pay it forward. Sharing on your social media is the only way to make sure that our hungry brothers and sisters will continue to receive the lunch bags. You can start by retweeting below. Share, share, share… #HashtagLunchbagChicago #BeautyWithAPurpose

Crowning of Your Inaugural Miss Jr Teen Illinois United States 2015

The Miss Illinois United States Class of 2015

This is my very first blog post, ever. Welcome and thanks for dropping by. On March 29, 2015 I was blessed to hear my own name, Ciara Evans, announced! Imagine how I felt in that moment, fumbling in disbelief and overwhelmed with tears of joy. I immediately became the inaugural Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States 2015. Before me, each year my state of Illinois crowned a Teen, Miss, and Ms. United States. But this year, after months of work and preparation, I gained 6 new sister queens! The Miss Illinois United States Organization is now proud to send 7 delegates to the competition of all competitions. Along with a brand new Little Miss, Pre-Teen, Teen, Miss, and Ms, I will compete in the 2015 Miss United States National Pageant in Washington, DC this July! As if that is not exciting enough, we are now part of the Miss World family and will send another delegate to compete! She is the beautiful and sweet Miss Illinois World. Please visit my Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States Facebook page to meet each of my new pageant sisters.

The reason I started this blog is to share one of the epidemics my generation is facing. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Since I’m most passionate about leading an active lifestyle through dance and eating as healthy as I can; I chose to be a champion for ending childhood obesity during my reign. In between wearing beautiful gowns, watching my favorite movies, shopping with gift cards, hanging out with my friends, and getting glammed-up, you will also find me hard at work volunteering and helping to spread awareness. So far, it’s been work but soooo much fun too!

Since I’m having the time of my life, I thought that I should share the journey with other young girls who have the same dream that I did. To those who dream of becoming a pageant queen and making a difference, I say YOU CAN DO IT! Since the Miss United States Organization has a motto of, Beauty With A Purpose, it was the only one for me. I wanted to do more than be thought of as just another pretty face. I wanted to make a difference.

So here we go, come along for my amazing journey as your Miss Jr. Teen Illinois United States 2015.  

Please leave a comment, I love to talk. Happy blogging!

Love, Ciara

Photo Credit: Official Miss Illinois United States Organization Photographer Eva Flis