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Weirton teen to participate in Miss Earth USA Pageant in Las Vegas come August

Leah Hinchee -- Contributed

WEIRTON — Leah Hinchee, a 15-year-old sophomore from Weirton, is set to take part in the Teen Miss Earth USA Pageant in Las Vegas from Aug. 2-9.

Sustainable fashion is her platform as she serves as Teen Miss Atlantic Ocean Earth 2020. She was awarded the title in early March.

“I am so proud of her,” said her mother, Christine Trushel, who has been actively involved during the past few months in community efforts such as providing pizzas to local first responders, a tree planting (for Leah’s nonprofit organization Tee’s For Trees) at a local park and many other community events. “This Miss Earth Pageant system is all about keeping and making the environment a better place to live. Leah has done an incredible job of spreading her message of sustainability and protection of the environment,” Trushel added.

“This is the first time since she has been a little girl that she has competed in any pageant system and so far, the experience and friends she’s met along the way will last a lifetime. Leah was part of a competitive dance group but an injury had sidelined that, so after researching the pageant system, she said, ‘I really would like to do that.’ We didn’t know much about the system at first, but once we did, we were all in. The Miss Earth USA organization is more than a beauty pageant. We are Beauties for a Cause,” Leah’s mother noted.

“Miss Earth USA delegates commit themselves year-round to bring awareness to and make an impact on environmental causes. Projects include tree plantings, children’s education, cleanups, water distribution and climate leadership training. It teaches them that being smart and confident are important qualities. It also gives them a way to show others that being kind and making a difference is something that anyone can do at any age.”

A sophomore at Weir High School, Hinchee said she came up with her platform “because I want other people to know that even though we may be teenagers, we can make a difference. We can spread the message that fast fashion is destroying the environment. And it’s something that most people don’t even consider.”

To help spread that message even further Hinchee started her own nonprofit organization Tee’s for Trees. She designs eco-friendly T-shirts with a fashion-forward flare using products that are eco-friendly such as T-shirts made from recycled materials like plastic bottles.

Hinchee will continue to serve the Teen Miss Atlantic Ocean Earth until March. She also will continue her other activities in the community and during school.

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she said, “This experience has taught me a lot about myself and what my passion is and that is fashion. I plan on attending a four-year college or university and pursue a career in the fashion industry where I can hopefully continue to spread my message of sustainable fashion.”

Hinchee also is an agency model with the Talent Group in Pittsburgh “so building her career in that industry is also a big possibility.”

She expressed appreciation for sponsor J. Jones Evening Wear for her dress and interview suit; her mother for all the support she has given her along the way; the city of Weirton for supporting her community tree-planting project; and others who have donated to the pageant charity BBB.

Follow Hinchee’s journey on her website www.leahhinchee.com and on Facebook at Teen Miss Atlantic Ocean.

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