By MIKE CHAIKEN
In the face of being bullied when she was younger, Logan West said she found her confidence and a sense of self by competing in pageants.
And those pageants, in turn, gave her a platform to fight the same type of bullying that haunted her when she was younger.
Now, Logan, who just gave up her crown as Miss Teen USA 2012, is readying the next generation of pageant participants in a special event on Sept. 21. And, in the process, the effort will help her continue her fight against bullies.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, Logan, a former Southington resident, will hold the Connecticut USA Extravaganza Pageant 2013 at the John C. Daniels School of International Communications in New Haven. The event, which is sponsored by Connecticut Fashion Week International, is touted as “a holistic and fun educational experience for young girls.” It will be a fund raiser for Logan’s national foundation educational program, “Unite Against Bullies Today.”
Logan held a similar pageant last year in Southington. “But,” explained Logan, “we’ve opened it up to a larger group of people. Last year, we just did it with the little kids. This year, anyone can participate.”
Crowns will be distributed in Preemie (0 to 3), Petite (4 to 6), Junior (7 to 10), Pre-Teen (11 to 13), Teen (14 to 18), Miss and Mrs. (18 and up) contestants. Male contestants, as well as female, are invited welcomed.
“It’s all about bringing other people in, enjoying the pageant, but also doing it for a good cause,” said Logan.
Last year, when Logan held her pageant, UABT was just getting started.
“Now our program is active in 15 different states so becoming a non-profit is a necessity at this point,” said Logan. “And this pageant will help us do that.
After being on the national stage as Miss Teen USA for the past year, Logan is getting to see what life is like on the other side of the pageant stage.
Organizing an event like this, she said, is “a lot more relaxing than competing. The stress of putting it together can be a little bit difficult. But not being the one on stage is quite a relief.”
Not that being up there on stage was a chore, explained Logan. “I enjoyed every pageant I’ve participated in.” But she said she enjoys “seeing the thrill of the other girls getting to participate. And making it less about the crown but about the experience is the best part.”
The promotional materials for the pageant emphasize the educational dimension of the event.
Logan explained, “I think most people have the misconception that pageants are really catty and it’s a bunch of people cutting up people’s dresses and people screaming at each other.”
It’s not so, said Logan, who besides being Miss Teen USA, also served as Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen. “In reality it’s about the friendships and the things you learn from it.”
“I could have never expected I have the interview skills I have now and be more confident in myself (if it weren’t for pageants),” said Logan.
“I think through the pageants, I’ve gained a sense of self…,” said Logan. “I think through pageants I’ve learned getting on stage and just being Logan, being me is the best part.”
As the contestants get ready for the pageant, Logan also will serve as the all-knowing instructor. “Anything they need, whether it’s interview help or a little coaching in your walk. Anything. I’ve got you covered in all parts.”
There will be winners in the assorted categories in the Connecticut USA Extravaganza Pageant. But the big winner will be Logan’s charity, Unite Against Bullies Today.
The battle against bullying was inspired by Logan’s own tale of being bullied when she was in middle school.
“After my own bullying experience I lost who I was entirely,” said Logan.
“With (UABT), I try to give the kids the tools they need (to stop bullying),” said Logan.
The program has grown by leaps and bounds since the days before Logan won her Miss Teen USA crown last year. Since then, the UABT program has been implemented in 15 states, scattered all across the country. And, Logan has spoken to more than 100,000 students along the way.
The program is not just about Logan’s thoughts on bullying. She explained she has had expert help in shaping the program. The Governor’s Prevention Partnership of Connecticut, in particular, has been integral in pulling the programs implemented by UABT together.
With the help of her ambassadors, representatives who can be where Logan can’t, the former Miss Teen USA is ready to put more focus on the program in the coming year.
Logan said it was difficult at times last year to balance her Miss Teen USA title, UABT, and being a freshman at Pace University. With one less thing on her plate, and the assistance of her mother Patricia West, Logan plans to push UABT to the next level.
“I’m very excited.”
The participants in the Sept. 21 pageant also will get a chance to do their part to halt bullying, said Patricia. Patricia said her daughter will tell her story about being bullied. Then the contestants will be asked to take the Unite Against Bullying Today pledge.
The Connecticut USA Extravaganza Pageant 2013 is Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The competition, which will be held at the John C. Daniels School of International Communications, 569 Congress Ave., New Haven includes interview, on-stage question, evening gown, swimwear (either a swimsuit or a summer outfit that can be worn at the beach). The entry fee is $200, plus additional fees for optional events (talent, photogenic, and community service awards). You can apply on-line at www.CTUSAExtravaganza Pageant.moonfruit.com. Deadline to register is Sept. 14
For more information, email Patricia West at EliteDanceCT@aol.com, or call (860) 620-4662.