Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Images by Justin Hunter
Curry’s Ava Esch has participated in pageants for most of her life, but what started as a way to have fun and meet new people has become much more significant.
The 14-year-old recently competed in the Miss Walker County Outstanding Teen pageant and shared her platform, Upside Down Frowns, which advocates for children dealing with trauma.
“I’ve always really loved doing pageants. But when I was around six, I started doing the Rising Star program through the Miss Alabama organization,” Ava says. “My friend, Emma Owens, has a social platform called Siren and Snuggles. She’s been a really good role model for me. She really introduced me to pageants and finding a platform for community service.”
The inspiration for Upside Down Frowns comes from Ava’s own childhood experience.
“Before I started doing pageants, I had to go to the advocacy center to go through trauma therapy, so that’s really what made me choose this as my platform. I just wanted to give back and encourage other kids,” she says.
The platform began on Facebook, where Ava and her mom, Brittany, began asking for donations of prizes, such as toys and coloring books, to create a treasure box at the Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Ava hopes these items provide children visiting the center with an outlet from their trauma. She hopes to expand her platform across the state, partnering with schools and advocacy centers to encourage kids and provide them with stress outlets.
“Gaining this experience is very rewarding and always makes my day,” says Ava. “My goal is to encourage other kids through this platform so they can have this little bit of happiness to help cope with their stress and trauma.”
For Ava, it’s not just about pageantry and having a platform; it’s a way to give back. WL
Studies show that up to 43% of boys and girls go through at least one trauma in their childhood. Learn more about donating to Ava’s platform by visiting Upside Down Frowns on Facebook.