I started my non-profit out of a desire to provide a light of positivity for young children and teens who are facing the same bullying and shame as I experienced growing up. I realized that the fear of sharing my story behind my scars was much worse than the reality. I would have to accept the questions, and needed to understand it was only out of curiosity, and was better than the countless who just stare and come to their own conclusions. Scars are sometimes treated as a highly classified ‘do not ask’ stamp.
As a young girl if someone asked me about my scar I would just pretend I didn’t hear the question. I would just make my exit. My first scar was at the young age, 4 years old, and on my upper lip. And then at ages 6, 7 and 10; so I can personally tell you that at the age of 4 I felt shame in my scar, and then when I had to have surgeries later, that fear/shame only grew. Our society is so perfect driven, that even my peers felt the need to remind me that I was now ‘less than’.
Holding all of that in was the only way I knew to cope, I didn’t want to share the painful words or actions, so I buried it deep.
Once I finally accepted my scars, then I began to rebuild who I was on the inside. It wasn’t without failures. But I continued to try and worked hard to develop talents and interests. I also became quite the adventure seeker. I began a liberating road to self healing and self love. Never selfish love. I have always had a big heart and being involved in my community was taught at home from a young age. As I continued to build my self-esteem I had a desire to stand out on my own. I wanted to find my special place, my ‘calling’.
I found myself remembering a special time as a young girl when I dreamed a big dream of being a Miss America. I wanted to try it out and found that I had gained valuable life experiences that helped me thru all stages of competition. As I began preparing for my personal platform I wanted, and fought to build a platform to advocate for the 70% of children who are left with scars annually. After researching I found organizations specific only to the source of the scars that were endured. And yet there was little to no mention of the impact of living with visible scars. I saw a terrible void. I have met and known so many children who are suffering from severe life threatening issues. However, who is there to help them face a perfect driven society. These children and teens should be facing the world as victors. They are the brave warriors of today. As are the countless adults who because of severe scars, have remained hidden among us.
My goal for Shining Scars is to donate copies of my book which is about a shining star, Eugene, who has a shining scar, to every Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. I have two other books I am working to publish and will be growing my non-profit to include providing scholarship and sponsorship for children and teens. My life goal is to change public perception to embrace beauty that shines from within. Teach children to focus on the character of individuals and not judge people by what they see on the outside. We are all unique and worthy of love and acceptance.
If you get to know me on a personal level you will find I am pretty quiet, but love to laugh. I am the biggest kid at heart, I love adventure and recently went on a tree top Zip Line tour and whitewater rafting this summer. I am an only child, growing up I had the best of both worlds, my mother is of Mexican heritage and my father is Irish/German so I grew up embracing and accepting cultural differences and traditions.
I used my scars to stand out and stand up for others, I am choosing to make a difference in how children and teens perceive their scars.
About Krystian Leonard
Krystian is half Mexican American, and an Irish/German mix. She was born to a military father in New Mexico before moving to West Virginia when she was 10 months old. Her passion is people, She is an advocate for children and teens who are healing and living with scars. Her background in scars is personal. Having been bullied because she was different led her to create her own non-profit, write a children’s book and share her first TEDx talk. She plans to use her difference to make a difference in the lives of those who are impacted by their scars. Currently she volunteer at schools, children’s hospitals and veterans hospitals. She has been featured in the book Who I Am: American Scar Stories, and am a co-author for Contagious Optimism book 2, the 10 habits of highly optimistic people. (To be realeased). She was also a keynote speaker at the inaugural Contagious Optimism Live Event. All of this before she turned 18!