National pageant winner speaks to Kindness Klub

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Miss National American Teen and Nease High senior Rylee Moore spoke to a group of middle school girls about the importance of being confident about themselves during Kindness Klub’s Honeybee H.I.V.E. meeting Sept. 23 at Kookaburra Coffee in Nocatee.

Moore’s message stressed self-worth and the understanding that it is all about how you feel about yourself and not about how others perceive you.

“It’s hard growing up because everyone is worried about trying to fit in while not giving in to peer pressure,” Moore said. “I want them to know that it’s OK to not try and be somebody that they’re not. Know what you stand for, so you won’t have to give in.”

It was Moore’s first speaking engagement since becoming Miss National American Teen.

“I love sharing my stories to try to help others,” Moore said. “Being secure in yourself can relate to achieving your dreams and ultimately being the person you aspire to be.”

She hopes that she can be a positive role model for the girls and someone they can relate to, especially with her being a local.

“I remember when I was their age and I looked up to girls,” Moore said. “I know this is more than just a sash and crown.”

Part of the discussion during the meeting was not just about being kind to those around, but it also focused on how the girls can handle the situation of someone being mean to them.

Some of the approaches used included walking away and not reacting or responding to such remarks with words of kindness.

The Kindness Klub was started by Skyler McKinney and her friend Berkeley Lockhart four years ago when the two were in third grade at Ocean Palm Elementary.

They began it with the hopes of adding kindness to the world, while also creating an outlet for middle school girls to socialize and make new friends.

“I love what they are doing with their mission,” Moore said.

The two are now seventh graders at Palm Valley Academy in Nocatee, and the club recently added its 78th member overall, with about 35 of those considered active members.

Many of the members that are no longer active are due to them now being in high school.

“It’s just really exciting to be able to meet new girls and to have relationships with them,” McKinney said.

As the numbers grow, so does the interest in the club. This is the first year it is considered an official club within the school system.

“It’s been intriguing just to see it grow during that time,” said Cyndie McKinney, Skyler’s mom.

The club is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and has hopes to eventually spread its reach into various middle schools in the county.

Moore met McKinney and her mom Cyndie through the pageant system, as McKinney has competed at the younger levels and is the current Junior Miss National American Teen.

“She’s a really sweet person, and I think the girls really liked having her here,” Skyler said.

Moore competed in her high school’s pageant, but it had been something she had always thought about even before that opportunity presented itself.

“I knew I wanted to get involved, because it’s not all ‘toddlers in tiaras,’ it’s much more than that,” Moore said. “It’s about who you are, what you’re doing and what you want to do for the world.”

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