By Ivan Pereira
Miss America paid a special visit to Hollis Friday to learn a few new dance moves and help spread a message of healthy living to a new generation of girls.
Teresa Scanlan was greeted with a warm welcome at Filipino American Human Services Inc., at 185-14 Hillside Ave., where the organization’s youth group demonstrated traditional Filipino dances and showcased the country’s history. The dances were part of an initiative that the group made to get kids to be more active and fight childhood obesity.
The 18-year-old Nebraska native, who is the youngest Miss American contestant to be crowned, said this was the first time she had visited Queens and the message she and the group were presenting was important to her.
“Society today is really focused on weight and size rather than healthy living,” she said.
Scanlan’s platform during her pageant focused on eating disorders and she said it went hand-in-hand with unhealthy diets that are filled with high fat foods. In both ï»¿disorders, she said victims deny they are having a problem with their eating habits and it leads to them to either under-eat or overeat more and more.
“It’s all about finding that middle ground,” she said.
The administrators of the group agreed and, along with the nonprofit Youth Service of America, helped to arrange for Scanlan’s visit and program, which was part of Global Youth Service Day.
Girls from the nonprofit’s youth program demonstrated a traditional tiniking dance, which involves the participants taking precise steps and spins in-between two bamboo poles. The dance was named after a Filipino bird that ï»¿does similar moves around bamboo trees to get to rice fields.
After the girls’ dance presentation, Scanlan got in and tried to do the moves herself. Although she received an ovation from the crowd, the beauty queen admitted she was no match for the younger prancers.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” she said.
The ethnic group also gave Scanlan a taste of some traditional and healthy Filipino treats, including fresh vegetable rolls.
Eva Marie Louie, 7, who gave Scanlan a gift bag during her visit, said she was excited to meet Miss America.
“I’m such a huge fan,” she said as she chowed down to some of the healthy food.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who was also on hand, praised Scanlan for coming to Queens to fight childhood obesity. Two weeks ago, Comrie introduced legislation that would ban toys from fast-food restaurants that sell them with high calorie meals.
“We want to do everything we can legislatively to help parents and children make healthy choices,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.