MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Krystian Leonard began her humanitarian efforts when she was 15. In 2012, she founded “Shining S.C.A.R.S.”, a non-profit aimed at children to help break down insecurities around scars. Nine years and a children’s book sold in 30 countries later, Leonard was a recipient of the Diana Award, the most prestigious award a humanitarian under 25-years-old can receive.
Leonard spent parts of her childhood in and out of the hospital, accumulating large scars on her leg and back. It was a huge insecurity of hers growing up and, as she came to accept her body for how it was, wanted to help others overcome their imperfections, as well.
As part of her efforts to overcome insecurities with her self-image, Leonard began entering pageants as a teenager. In 2021, she was named Miss Morgantown and was the runner-up in the Miss West Virginia pageant last weekend.
While her children’s book is known throughout the world and was the recipient of the “Mom’s Choice” award, Leonard spent the bulk of her time in West Virginia, working with children locally. She has traveled the Mountain State to schools and hospitals, talking with children about growing up with scars and how she overcame her insecurities. Leonard hoped children could relate to her struggles, or that of “Eugene,” the main character in her book, and could then in turn help themselves.
“I think we really need to focus on destigmatizing stigmas, whether it’s about scars or something else that’s personal,” Leonard said.
Named after Princess Diana, who was renowned for her humanitarian work, the Diana Award is the longest-running award for young people. People up for the award must be nominated by someone who knows them through their humanitarian lens. Having been nominated for the first time in 2021, Leonard was listed on the honor roll for the award recipients.
Due to the pandemic, Leonard accepted her award virtually last month. She said that in the future, albeit an unknown date, for now, she can go across the pond to accept the award in person in England.
Click here to learn more about Shining S.C.A.R.S. and Leonard’s work.