Denise Pelaez had heard of the Embrace Girls Foundation and was so impressed that she entered her daughter Alyssa in the group’s Little Miss Princess pageant in 2009.
"It was more than a pageant,” Pelaez said. “It was more about sisterhood and developing positive self-esteem and self-confidence.”
Alyssa won every category she competed in, including, the People's Choice Award.
The pageant, as well as Social Teas sponsored by Embrace are the organization's signature fundraisers that support its programs. The girls not only have fun, but also win prizes. Last year's winners took home awards that included trophies, a professional photo shoot, gift cards and savings bonds. They also made personal appearances and met dignitaries and celebrities.
Now in its third year, the pageant is sponsored in part by the Miss Florida USA Teen and Miss Florida USA Organization, Embrace founder Velma Lawrence said.
Girls aged 4-13 may compete in three age divisions they get a chance to form bonds as they take part in pre-pageant activities.
“It's more like a club than a competition,” says Melba Pearson, director of events and fundraising for Embrace, a not-for-profit charitable organization that offers after-school and weekend academic, social and cultural services for elementary girls in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“My daughters have been in the Embrace Girl Power program for several years and words cannot express how I have seen their growth, from being shy little girls afraid to speak up to self assured and focused in school, their grades and behavior,” said Theresa Ferguson-Miles, mother of Dahlia and Camelia Miles, who competed in the 2009 Little Miss Princess Pageant and won in every category they entered.
"This program has really been a blessing to all the girls involved and even their families,” Ferguson-Miles said in a statement from Embrace announcing this year’s pageant. “We get to see and do so many things and meet so many people — people that we would never dream of meeting.”
Embrace will host the first of three Princess Search Parties from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at Johnny Rockets, 6769 Main St., Miami Lakes. The next pageant will take place in May 2011 on the theme "A Princess’ Dream."
The registration fee is $25.
For more information, call 305-270-4099 or log on to www.embracegirlpower.org.
CHRIS LOGAN/SPECIAL TO SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
THREE PRINCESSES: Gabrielle Michel-Johnson, left was joint winner with Camelia Miles, right, for the Best Talent category, and Abrielle Robinson was runner-up to Camelia in the Sunflower category in the Embrace Girls Foundation’s Little Miss Princess pageant held last year.