Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Want To See You Be B.R.A.V.E.: Boosting Self Confidence Through Self Defense

When I started in the Miss America Organization, I knew right away sharing the confidence I have gained by studying self defense is what I wanted to promote as Miss America Outstanding Teen.  As a role model for our rising generations, I cannot wait to share my message with a much bigger audience.  
What comes to mind when you think of the word brave? I think courage, valor and fearlessness.  I want children who are secretly in pain or being abused in any way - physically, sexually, mentally; those being bullied or who just need a boost of confidence to understand they have B.R.A.V.E. inside themselves right now.  My platform can catapult across the nation teaching children to be B.R.A.V.E when facing any giant in their way.   When I competed on the county level, I chose to dance to the song “Brave” by Sarah Barielles.  The meaning of this song is what I want to convey to my audience.  I want to see them be B.R.A.V.E in word and action to have their words “fall out.”  I want for them to understand in their hearts how B.R.A.V.E. they already are, and act.  
I developed an acronym for the word B.R.A.V.E. The letters stand for:  B: Be Brave; R: React; A: Aware and Avoid; V: Valiant; and E: Execute.   Through school assemblies, television appearances, B.R.A.V.E. camps, speaking to youth groups and along with my blog and social media, I have taught and will continue to teach children about being B.R.A.V.E.  I reinforce it’s not always easy; in fact, sometimes it is downright hard.  In all dangerous, hurtful or scary situations, they need to “React.”  They can scream, talk to someone they trust, use physical defense moves or run away.  They will have the tools to stand up for themselves when confronted by a bully or an abuser.  They have to be taught how to be ”Aware” of their surroundings and “Avoid” certain situations.  If they are “Valiant”, they can and will have the courage to execute their B.R.A.V.E.  
I want kids to get away from the stereotype of self defense being only physical action.  Participating in martial arts for over twelve years,  I have learned self-defense can be speaking up for yourself and standing taller in certain situations by taking a stance.  Young people need the courage to walk away from a perpetrator or bully.  I have and will continue to show them how to make decisions beforehand so when they are confronted with a harmful situation they already have a plan in place.  I believe this will take some of the fear away. 
To be on my BRAVE team, the kids have to pass off the song, learn simple dance actions, go through the BRAVE training and take the oath.  Once the kids take the B.R.A.V.E. oath, they commit to protecting themselves from harm, whether it be verbal, physical or mental.  In turn, they can earn a t-shirt and bracelet, but most importantly they will find their inner courage to be B.R.A.V.E.  
Can you feel that excitement?  I couldn’t be more excited to share my message.   Let’s face it. You cannot always sit back and wait for the bully to change.  Sometimes a trusted person can’t be trusted.  You cannot always rely that parents will teach their children to be safe.  My platform can be taught to young and old.   Every child, even if they don’t appear to be struggling, can find their B.R.A.V.E.  My platform will be implemented nationwide and make a positive change for every child.  I will help them find their B.R.A.V.E. 


  1. You are amazing! And definitely one of the strongest bravest girls that I know. Thank you for always being so positive! Love you more than you know!

  2. Wow Maddie!!! You are amazing! I have to constantly remind myself that you are only 16, you are the most mature girl I know! I am honored to be your sister! I want to be just like you, but I have a LONG ways to go.. Thank you for all your positive and happy words, you have affected the lives of so many people young and old! We sure love you!