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Miss International 2012
Krista Wanous

Krista captured the title of Miss International® 2012 at the annual Miss International® Pageant held at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie Illinois. With this prestigious honor, Krista is blessed with the incredible opportunity to voice her passion and personal message, ART HEALS! Healing Lives Through Creative Expression.

Proudly born and raised in the beautiful state of Minnesota, Krista is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, with emphasis in Art Therapy, from the Alfred Adler Institute. With her knowledge and experience, she is on a journey to inspire purpose, heal traumatize young souls, and restore hope for children and families. It is in her very own home that her Art Heals mission was discovered. After 13 years of living in fear, experiencing trauma, loss, and devastation, she began using Art and Creative Therapy like painting, drawing, poetry, and creative writing, to express her feelings in a safe healthy way. She found that she could tell her story better through pictures than she could through just words alone. She was insecure, fearful, and could not find the vocabulary to express these feelings. She also felt as though nobody in her life could relate, wouldn't understand, or could not be trusted to keep her story a secret. As she grew older and more independent she slowly gained more confidence through extra curricular activities at school like cheerleading and art programs. When she began college, she knew she had a passion for psychology and a deep love for art. She decided to combine the two and major in Art Therapy. She wants to use the same techniques and outlets that helped her overcome and heal to help other families and children in similar conditions communicate and begin the healing process.

Krista says, “When children have experienced abuse, trauma or neglect, they no longer have trust in their family, friends, or community. They need a positive supporting role model or mentor in their lives to help remind them just how special they are. By partnering these mentors with creative activities to draw out inner feelings of fear, anger and violence, we can better understand them. Most children who come from a rough home life are never given the chance to be creative, or to use their imagination. Art is usually considered a luxury but I see it as a necessity! Art is a place of freedom, there is no right or wrong and you CAN color outside the lines! It is amazing to watch the change in a child when they start being creative. Their mood changes from timid, shy and withdrawn to excited, outgoing, and proud. They need that reassurance and that chance to see them selves as capable of turning their trauma into a masterpiece. I love to see a child finish a project with our Art Mentors, stand up and say, “HEY! Look what I made! I did it all by myself!” waving their project in the air for everyone to see with a huge smile from ear to ear. It is a tiny respite and beacon of hope that is otherwise hidden in the shadows. I know God put me through traumatic experiences as a child so I could grow up and help children who were once just like me.”

Krista is a Free Arts MN mentor, advocate, fundraiser, volunteer, and event coordinator. She is also the Healing Arts Spokesperson for the International Child Art Foundation. She will begin by traveling to each one of the Free Arts affiliates across the country sharing curriculum and best practice methods. She will also be fundraising to meet her $10,000 goal so Free Arts MN can expand to a brand new facility and mentor children through the arts for an entire year. She will also be fundraising so she can travel with the International Child Art Foundation. She has been invited to attend the International Conference on Creativity in Tokyo and to Japan to mentor children who have lost everything in a devastating tsunami.

When 60% of children who have been abused, will continue to be in abusive relationships, commit violent crimes, or substance abuse, it is necessary that we take action now. By helping these unstable children find their footing, we can ensure that we will have a thriving community lead by stable, healthy minded adults in the future.

Krista also works for Catholic Charities as a Mental Health Counselor. She cares for 18 mentally ill adults living in a group home. Because of this, she advocates for mental illness and volunteers with the Special Olympics. She is also an avid volunteer with the American Heart Association. She has a deep love for AHA and is eager to inform the public about prevention. She lost two grandparents this year to heart failure and is personally motivated to make sure everyone knows that heart disease is preventable if you know the symptoms, know your numbers, and live a heart healthy lifestyle. She had heart surgery as a young girl and knows how important it is to be heart healthy even at a young age.

As Krista always says, “We need to teach our children all aspects of health – Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies!”

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” – Fredrick Douglas