Bullied as a kid, Vernon woman never thought she'd have the confidence to share her story on a world stage - InfoNews

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Bullied as a kid, Vernon woman never thought she'd have the confidence to share her story on a world stage

Samantha Sewell won the title of Miss International Volunteer at the Miss Royalty International pageant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this month.
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July 11, 2018 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - Once ashamed to speak because of a speech impediment, a Vernon woman is now sharing her story with thousands in hope of making a difference for bullied kids and teens.

Samantha Sewell, 20, recently won the title of Miss International Volunteer at the Miss Royalty International pageant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But there was a time not so long ago that Sewell, who was born with multiple severe speech impediments and told as a child that she would never be able to talk, never thought she’d be where she is today.

“I was severely bullied growing up,” Sewell says. “I would walk down the halls and people would say ‘look, there goes the retarded girl.’ My locker would be scribbled with ‘stupid’ and there was graffiti in the bathroom stalls.”

As a child, Sewell used sign language and picture books to communicate, things that made her fall behind in school and alienated her from her peers, she says.

“In high school, I was the only one sitting by myself eating lunch. Whenever there was a group project, I was the one off to the side that no one wanted to work with,” she says.

By Grade 9, she was ready to quit. She hated going to school and wanted to drop out. But a caring teacher changed everything.

“This teacher phoned my house and he told me and my mum he was going to personally help make sure the bullying would end. I realized I had someone there for me,” she says.

Not long after, she found a phone number for the Kids Help Phone on a Halloween chocolate bar. She decided to call the number.

“It was a really rough day for me and I decided why not. It’s not going to hurt. It can’t get any worse,” she says.

Between the teacher and the voices on the other end of the Kids Help Phone, Sewell says things started to get better.

That story is the basis for Sewell’s pageant platform: Be someone’s hero, not a bystander. She takes that message to each competition, event and appearance.

She shares her story of being bullied openly and honestly to show other kids and teens they aren’t alone.

As an ambassador for Live Out Loud Charity, which focuses on anti-bullying, suicide prevention, and core character development, Sewell also visits schools with her message of hope and awareness.

“I tell the kids it’s OK to get help,” Sewell says.

As a daycare worker and early education assistant, Sewell believes there should be more training about suicide awareness and bullying built into certification programs.

“In my experience, there was nothing in the training about watching for signs of bullying or suicidal behaviour, and it was sad,” she says.

She plans to use her new title as Miss International Volunteer to keep spreading her message and letting kids know that being bullied doesn’t define who you are.

“I’m doing this to tell people they’re not alone in their battle, whatever it is,” she says.

You can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 and find more resources here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
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