Miss Universe Canada finalist driven to bring awareness about mental health

Langley resident Jessica Bailey has a vision of creating mentorship program to help struggling kids

Jessica Bailey’s bio says she has a heart for the hurting.

The empathy she has for others is one of the reasons why she is competing in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant in Toronto.

The 19-year-old Langley resident is among the 72 national finalists — and one of six from B.C. — who will vie for the title at a competition that runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 8.

“I’ve never actually done a pageant before, but I saw the Miss Universe pageant on TV and I thought it was kind of cool,” Bailey said.

She submitted an application online and subsequently forgot about it.

Five months later, she was contacted to do an interview and then audition for the Miss Universe Canada competition.

These days, Bailey’s days are filled: she has two jobs and in the fall, will enter her third year at Trinity Western University, with a double major in human kinetics and psychology.

At TWU, the six-foot-tall Bailey is middle blocker with the Spartans women’s volleyball team.

Looking ahead to the pageant, Bailey is paying for her trip to Toronto out of pocket but she continues to look for sponsors.

“I’m still in the sponsorship stage but I’m working two jobs right now trying to raise some funds,” she said.

“I’m coaching in the morning with Trinity, doing kids camps, and during the evening I bartend/host at a Greek restaurant,” Bailey said. “I work from 8 a.m. to 12 (noon) and I work from four or five (in the afternoon) to around 10 or 11 at night.”

Her life is busy to say the least, but Bailey is happy she looked into Miss Universe Canada.

“It’s been a really rewarding experience, actually,” Bailey said. “The reason I did it in the beginning is, I’m slightly introverted and I wanted to push myself to develop and become more extroverted, and to start raising awareness for things I wanted to originally but I just never had a reason to.”

The pageant gives Bailey a platform to combine her competitive nature with her future aspirations.

“I want to become a stronger individual, if anything,” she said. “I want to be able to talk to people about what I’m passionate about.”

And she is very passionate about the plight of kids suffering from mental illness.

Bailey was only 10 years old when she developed depression and anxiety but with the help of counselling and loved ones, she overcame these speedbumps at the age of 18.

Her own experience combined with a passion to help others gave Bailey a vision to attend TWU with the hopes of becoming a rehabilitation specialist to help those who have experienced a traumatic accident, event, or injury.

She also wants to assist people with the mental and physical healing needed after such traumatic events, thus allowing them to conquer setbacks and persevere to achieve their goals.

Ultimately, Bailey has a goal of creating a nonprofit organization that will give back to society.

“My goal is to set up community groups in Langley and throughout B.C., and if somehow I won (Miss Universe Canada), around Canada, for high school kids to have mentorships by older individuals,” Bailey said. “There are so many things that people are going through but the generation above us have already gone through that. We seek more knowledge from what’s on Google than from the generation above us, you know?”

She’s already giving back. Bailey has been on three mission trips to Vanuatu, Albania, and Guatemala, where she painted schools and churches, helped out in a hospital, handing out supplies, and taught children English.

And she put together the ‘A Spike For A Smile’ grass volleyball tournament Aug. 20 at Willoughby Community Park. The tournament served as a fundraiser for Operation Smile which helps improve the lives of children born with cleft palates in Third World countries.

An ongoing fundraiser for Operation Smile is Bailey’s ‘Smile Challenge.’

“It is like the ice bucket challenge but you take a video of yourself making someone smile,” Bailey said.

The link is: https://goo.gl/4ehxEt to donate

Inner beauty

Bailey wants to dispel the stereotype of pageants as ‘beauty contests.’

“I think that pageants push women to become their personal ideal image,” Bailey said. “People can’t win just for being beautiful. They need to be able to hold themselves on a stage and they also have to be able to communicate what they’re trying to get across to an audience and I think that the one thing that is most valuable of all is, when someone wins this title, the owners (of the pageant) want that person to be able to use it to their optimum opportunity to inspire kids, to move them forward.”

She said the judges look “more for the character of the individual than what’s on the outside.”

The winner of the Miss Universe Canada will represent Canada in the Miss Universe 2017 competition.