Mekayla Eppers motivates youngsters at Sudbury Overcome and Empower forum

Mrs. America 2018 Mekayla Eppers, a Zhiibaahaasing First Nation band member spoke to youth at an “Overcome and Empower” youth forum in Sudbury last weekend. Photo by Tom Sasvari

SUDBURY—In her new capacity as an Indigenous motivational speaker, Mrs. America 2018 Mekayla Eppers joined others in speaking with youngsters at a ‘Overcome and Empower’ youth forum held in Sudbury last weekend.

“I had been invited by the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre to be a speaker at the youth forum to speak about overcoming obstacles in one’s life, adversity and empowerment,” Ms. Eppers who is a Zhiibaahaasing First Nation band member (who now lives in Indiana), told the Recorder Monday evening. The youth forum took place last Saturday at the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury and included youth 14 years and older.

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“On Saturday one of the main features of my presentation was to help the youth understand that their future is in their own hands,” said Mrs. Eppers. “The mistakes they make and their parent’s mistakes in raising them can be overcome. They need to move beyond the past and let these transgressions provide fuel for their future.”

She spoke of the youth needing to “be in balance with their mind, body, spirit and emotions.”

On Monday Mrs. Eppers spoke to a younger group of between 15-20 youngsters, aged 9-14. “They wanted to know things like what it means and is like to be Mrs. America (2018), how I overcame a tough childhood and how they can reach their dreams.”

Ms. Eppers had been sexually abused when she was a child.

She was crowned Mrs. America 2018 last year and was Miss Indiana in 2014 and again in 2017. She also competed in the Mrs. World Pageant last December placing in the top 12. Mrs. World was hosted by South Africa for the first time and saw 40 women compete for the title.

“I am continuing my work and doing speaking engagements, for instance working with women’s shelters,”said Mrs. Eppers. She is also very passionate about the Feather Project/Four Winds scholarship fundraising project she started for foster care children, to help them attain their dream of going to college. “I hope by having this scholarship that it will mean more kids will have the opportunity of realizing their dream and going to college. I will continue to fund this scholarship with my speaking engagements.”