Something that many of us don’t expect with small town living is finding out what big names live among us. Last week, the Times shared the story of GIF star Robert E. Blackmon. Now it’s time to put the spotlight on a different kind of star – beauty star and Miss Ottawa winner Lauren Pederson.
Being a beauty star is about both brains and beauty, and for Lauren, the allure of the idea came from the realization of how it could help her do even more good things in her career in children’s mental health. Lauren is a Child and Youth Counsellor in a psychiatric ward, in addition to being a Children’s Aid Society volunteer, a Unicef child rights advocate, a Bachelor of Social Work student, a mental health activist, and the creator and founder of Legendary Wellness.
Growing up in Osgoode, Lauren moved to the Mountain/North Grenville area at the beginning of high school, and enrolled at St. Michaels. Throughout high school, Lauren volunteered at many places that support those in need, including the Salvation Army, House of Lazarus, and the Special Olympics (through St. Michaels). “After graduation, I followed up with schooling for child youth counselling in Kingston,” said Lauren. “Ultimately, I fell deep into a passion for children’s mental health. I was named the student representative, and went on to graduating with honours.” Lauren’s final goal is to become a child psychotherapist after completing her Master’s degree.
Lauren’s journey as a beauty star started in Kingston. “While in Kingston, I was modeling, and the photographer and I were having an open conversation about mental health and my dreams for our country,” Lauren said. “She posed the idea of Canadian Pageants (Miss World Canada to be exact!). What resonated, was that the top five contestants get funding and coverage for their ‘beauty with a purpose’ project.” Lauren’s goal for the project, which has not changed, is a free children’s mental health website that would bridge multiple gaps youth are facing today when it comes to accessing resources.
“I had no idea what I was doing, however I kept focusing on my goal of helping the children I’ve counselled over the years, and I ended up in the top 10,” Lauren said. “Which meant, I won the title of Miss Ottawa for one year, and was now an official delegate for Miss World Canada 2022! I just competed and returned actually, and I was top five in all speaking challenges and top five in fitness/strength overall, and won a few of the specific fitness challenges!”
Lauren truly enjoyed competing in the pageants. “It was an incredible experience, and I felt so empowered by the kindness and drive from the women competing with me,” she said. “I walked on the stage and remained true to myself and my vision.” Although Lauren did not get a crown for the top five, she does not feel as though she lost. “I feel like I gained,” Lauren said. “I feel like I’ve become the most self aware, attentive, and best version of myself these last months. I am so grateful for what is to come from this as well.”
True to her vision and goals, Lauren has been very present in the Ottawa area since winning the Miss Ottawa title, which is plain to see from her social media platforms, and from TV, parades, and interviews. “I will continue to connect with my community through mental health activism, charitable events, and more,” Lauren added. “I will continue being a mentor for any youth suffering out there.” Lauren can be found on social media at https://www.facebook.com/laurenzo.pederson.