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Beauty queen uses crown to battle bullying

Forming Connecting Cliques and promoting it through her website, www.madisonmanuel.webs.com, helped the young activist take her message to another level.

"We recently put on a free self defense class and taught people how to prevent themselves from being put into a bullying situation and how to get out of one if you're put into it; how to defend yourself," said Manuel.

Her website has links to informational websites, organizations and tips she can vouch for firsthand about how to know if you're a bully, how to recognize if you're being bullied and what to do if someone you know is getting bullied.

"What I really want to do soon is implement some things in my school [Shenendehowa High School]," said Manuel.

Don't forget about the launching pad that made her anti-bullying campaigns possible: pageantry.

Manuel has competed in the Miss America Outstanding Teen program and is the current Miss Upstate New York Outstanding Teen.

"My platform Connecting Cliques really coincides with Children's Miracle Network platform for the Miss America Organization," said Manuel.

Since pageantry is about much more than the gowns and makeup, Manuel said she has no interest in racking up title after title.

"I'm not interested in doing too many others except Miss America Outstanding Teen and the Saratoga County Fair pageant because that's what I grew up on," said Manuel.

It's easy to get caught up in the superficial side of pageants, said Manuel, but her attitude toward pageants is what she said all young contestants should work toward.

"You can't just have outer beauty, you definitely need inner beauty because you can get really focused on what you look like when you're about to go on stage," said Manuel. "You definitely have to look good and have a healthy lifestyle but if you don't have inner beauty there's no point in doing it because the whole point of getting a title is to do something with it."

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