Former HALO Honoree Leah Stoltz Keeps Curvy Girls Going Strong
The HALO Awards are upon us, TeenNick humanitarians! The countdown to November has begun, and we're gearing up for the grandiose (but equally good-hearted) event that honors teens who Help And Lead Others. Every year, we bring in a new class of amazing do-gooders to showcase and reward the inspiring work to which they have IMPRESSIVELY dedicated their young lives.
Before we reveal this year's honorees, we're giving you a taste of the kind of work the HALO awards have recognized in the past. And really, one of the best parts about the HALO Awards is seeing how past honorees have continued to work for their respective causes AFTER they've been recognized by TeenNick!
A few weeks ago, we featured the all-star efforts of student environmental advocacy group Team Marine.> This week, we caught up with Leah Stoltz, a 2009 honoree who, after developing a spine condition called scoliosis, founded a support group for young girls called Curvy Girls. The year she was honored, Leah got to meet JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (and totally told him to start making music again! THANK YOU, GIRL!). Since then, she's been marching full speed ahead to make Curvy Girls bigger and better than ever, and trust us, this girl's passion will give you chills. Check out our interview below!
How is your health and scoliosis?
I am great! Honestly, I forget that I have a fused spine a lot of the time; it's so second nature to me. My brother still makes jokes about my hardware in my back and my parents still worry too much, but I wouldn't go back in time and trade my curvy back for a straight one for a billion dollars!
What have you been doing since the HALO awards?
When the HALO awards filmed me I was a senior in high school on Long Island, New York. How time has flown! Presently, I'm a senior at American University in Washington, DC. I'm getting my Business Administration degree with a specialization in Sports & Entertainment Business and I'm hoping, this time next year, to have a job!
What has been one of your favorite achievements since starting Curvy Girls?
Oh there's just no way I can only give you one! My three top favorite moments have been each time we expanded to another country first to Canada, then Brazil, and then Australia! What an amazing feeling it has been to know that our message is spreading across not only the nation, but also the world.
Could you tell us about your new book Straight Talk With Curvy Girls and why you decided to start writing?
Straight Talk with the Curvy Girls is a compilation of the original (pre-HALO) 9 Curvy Girls and their moms' stories, medical information, fashion advice, and complete guidance from diagnosis through post-treatment. It needed to be written for two reasons. One: we needed to tell our stories because every girl I have ever spoken to, no matter where in the world they are from, says the same things"I feel so alone. I thought I was the only one going through this." So even if there isn't a group in their town, by reading our stories they won't feel so alone. And two: we have set out to advocate changing the standard of care for adolescent scoliosis.
Sometimes adults may forget that we're kids/pre-teens who need to be spoken to and spoken to in a way we can understand. They need to know that we are not just a body, but an emotional mind that sometimes guides our decisions. When professionals, like doctors and orthotists, are sensitive to that, there will be much better treatment compliance.
You have attended the HALO awards since 2009! What was your favorite memory of the HALO awards?
I absolutely love getting to meet the honorees and reunite with everyone from the past years! We all get to reminisce about our time in their shoes as well as hopefully inspire them with how much the HALO effect really can aid their movement. It's also been wonderful to create this network of people from our generation who are really changing the world. We're friends on Facebook and are always there to cheer each other on or lend a hand. For example, this summer, Allyson [Ahlstrom] was on tour with her Threads for Teens truck and I got to volunteer with her on her DC stop. I loved meeting her and getting to know what she does, but having the opportunity to really be a part of her project was so special.
When Leah isn't advocating for Curvy Girls, she enjoys biking around DC with her friends, listening to music, and watching a Nickelodeon favorite, Legend of Korra. Stay tuned for some more AWESOME updates on HALO honorees, and look out for the 2013 HALO Awards coming to you in November!