Burlington, 11, uses pageant platform to help children adopt


A Burlington girl uses her pageant platform to raise awareness of the needs of foster children.

Ony’Khah Johnson, 11, was named Miss Iowa Preteen 2022 at the Iowa and Nebraska National Teen Scholarship Pageant on June 5 in Omaha.

The competition is part of the America National Teenager Scholarship Organization (ANTSO). Her title is 2022 ANTSO Miss Iowa Preteen.

In March, she will travel to the Nationals in Nashville to represent Iowa.

Ony’Khah is the daughter of Jared and Maggie Johnson.

“ANTSO was a whole new pageant experience for her. When they announced her as Miss Iowa Preteen, she was definitely in shock and also very excited,” Maggie Johnson said. “She is happy to represent Iowa and continue to make a difference in her community.”

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Ony’Khah also won the Community Service Award, which recognizes the contestant who has made the most impact with their community service project.

Her project is “Fostering Love”, which focuses on raising awareness of the needs of foster children and the foster system around Iowa.

Newly crowned Miss Preteen Iowa, Ony'Khah Johnson of Burlington with her parents Maggie and Jared Johnson, and her brothers, from left, Keoni and Kian.

She organizes fundraisers and collects supplies for foster children.

“Family is made of love, not DNA. All children deserve to feel unconditional love,” Ony’Khah said.

“The reasons she chose her community service project are, first, because of her aunt and uncle who are adoptive parents,” Maggie Johnson said.

“I got to witness the impact they had on the life of one particular little girl, and I knew I wanted to help too,” Ony’Khah added.

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“The second is personal to her own story with her stepfather who adopted her in 2020. She believes that all children deserve to feel the unconditional love and support he has shown her by choice and by choosing to to be his parents,” Maggie Johnson said.

“Ony started the project in 2019 when she was Lil’ Miss Iowa and has been able to help the host community in a variety of ways.”

These include:

  • Through Sweet Cases for Sweet Faces, Ony’Khah raised funds and purchased 45 duffel bags from Together We Rise, the largest foster care organization in the United States. She decorated and filled the bags with personal items for the adoptive children to replace the trash bag that many adopt. children are given the care of carrying their belongings and also giving them something of their own.
  • She collected and donated over 500 masks for foster care bags. These were donated to local Family and Children’s Services in Four Oaks, as well as Fostering Hope in Scott County.
  • Two fundraisers by Ony’Khah raised more than $2,000, which she used to purchase items on the most needed list for Fostering Hope of Scott County and Families Helping Families In Iowa. These included toys, clothes and baby/toddler hygiene items.

In addition to helping foster children through her platform, Ony’Khah also enjoys volunteering every summer at City of Hope (Kayla’s Cupboard). More recently, she and a friend held their own fundraiser to buy treats for all local first responders and delivered them to Burlington Police and Fire Department night staff.

Ony’Khah also performed well in the interview portion of the contest, academics, and the community, in addition to his stage appearances for questions and dresses.


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