By Jill Fox
Parkland’s Ayla Friedman took home the crown at the International United Miss Florida Junior Teen pageant held on February 27 in Orlando.
In late July, she’ll head to the International United Miss pageant in Atlantic City.
Friedman, 14, started competing in pageantry at the age of seven after receiving a letter about an opportunity in the mail.
“My dad was skeptical at first,” she said, “but then we learned the pageants would be beneficial for the future, like with practicing public speaking and interview skills.”
Friedman, who lives in Ternbridge and attends Pompano Beach High School, has won three state titles and utilizes her platform to promote organizations within the special needs community.
Last year, she started her very own nonprofit “Ayla’s Future Friends,” to create awareness, raise money, volunteer, and organize fundraisers to promote causes related to children.
“I really enjoy working with children with special needs, and I have grown a love for kids in general,” she said.
Friedman has been involved with Parkland Buddy Sports for over five years and donates her time to SOS children’s Village. In addition to her work with kids, she has helped raise money for other organizations, like Make Our Schools Safe. For her Bat Mitzvah project in 2019, she collected over $4,000 for Alyssa’s playground at Chabad of Parkland.
In her spare time, Friedman takes dance classes at Dance Theater of Parkland and Next Stop Broadway.
Although she’s an only child, she does have two furry siblings, Zen, a Golden Retriever, and Bodhi, a Labrador-Chow mix who have their own Instagram account.
To inspire others to be positive during the past year, Friedman created the “sour to sweet challenge,” where individuals could post pictures of anything positive on social media platforms and tag Sour2SweetChallenge.
“It’s a way for us all to spread positivity and happiness even during the darkest times,” she said.
While competing at the International United Misspageant in July, her parents will be by her side.
Friedman said it’s important for her to have a strong bond with her parents — Rob, an attorney, and Rachel, who works for an interior design company.
“They have allowed me to follow my dreams, and they are always there to support me.”
Follow Ayla on Instagram: @ayla_friedman
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