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Miss Teenage Peel spreads the word about Crohn’s

February 25, 2014

Mississauga News

MISSISSAUGA — Forget striving to win tiaras and sashes. These days, pageant contestants are often more motivated by a desire to raise awareness for a favourite cause.

Take 16-year-old Emilia Nowicki, who was recently crowned Miss Teenage Peel at the Miss Teenage Ontario pageant.

The Grade 11 student at Mississauga’s St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School wears her tiara and sash with pride, but she’ll feel even prouder if she succeeds in getting out her message about teens living with chronic autoimmune diseases.

“My whole life I have been suffering from Crohn’s disease, so I want to show the world that no matter what obstacles you face, anything is possible as long as you are passionate, determined and hard-working,” she said.

Nowicki certainly embodies those qualities.

Despite regularly missing large chunks of school (as much as a month and a half at a time) because of her illness, she maintains a high-90s average in Gonzaga’s Extended French program.

Away from school, she plays the piano, draws, writes poetry and acting. But she’s most passionate about dance.

“I absolutely live to dance … dance is what my body and soul were born to do,” she said.

At 14, Nowicki began teaching herself ballet, jazz, and contemporary with the help of some dance classes.

She’s a member of the Mississauga Arts Council, volunteering in the office and sometimes performing at events. She’s also active in MAC’s Limelight Association of Young Artists.

“People often judge me, since they see me and I look fine. Nobody will truly ever understand how you feel, unless they are going through the exact same thing as well,” said Nowicki.

“Living with an ‘invisible illness’ isolates you from everyone. You end up learning who your true friends are by the very few who stick by you despite everything. I have lived most of my life in and out of hospitals. I often become so sick and tired of being unable to function normally and having to fake a smile, pretending everything is okay when it’s not.”

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and even malnutrition. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, this country has one of the highest rates for Crohn’s in the world and those rates are increasing. In fact, one in 150 Canadians is living with IBD. There is no cure for the disease as yet.

Nowicki signed up for the Miss Teenage Ontario pageant after stumbling upon the contest on Facebook.

To win her crown, she had to research a charity or cause, make a speech about it, compete in a talent portion, and do “walks” in various outfits including a bathing suit and evening gown.

Nowicki now advances to the Miss Teen Canada pageant, taking place July 19-27 in Toronto.

“So far in my life, being named Miss Teen Peel is without a doubt the most exciting thing that has ever happened. With my title, I finally feel I have the power to begin making a change in the world.”

Mississauga News

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