On the playground behind The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club on SE 44, children gallop through fields of green like antelope, leap from monkey bars like chimpanzees and fly from swings like sparrows.
At least that's how Skylar Huff sees it.
“Nature is what moves me. It makes me feel like life's worth living. Being outside and in nature makes me feel like an animal ... like a bird, free, not in a cage,” Skylar, 11, wrote in her essay for the 2013 ImageMakers National Contest, a writing and photography contest sponsored by Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Skylar and fellow club member Iyana Freeman won at the Southwest Regional level.
“I'm really surprised,” Skylar said during the recent awards ceremony. “I didn't think I would win.”
This year's essay theme was “what moves me.”
“Nature moves me because it's free; all the wild animals can do whatever they want. I wish I could be that way,” Skylar said.
The Crooked Oak fifth-grader said she enjoys arts and crafts and playing with her dog. When she grows up, she wants to be either a photographer or a veterinarian.
She became a member of The Boys and Girls Club in August when her mother was looking for an affordable and safe place she could go after school, Skylar said.
A similar motivation led Amber Freeman to place her daughter Iyana, 9, in the program.
“I am really proud of her,” Amber Freeman said. “She's such a bright girl. She doesn't do anything halfway. She puts her all into what she does or she doesn't do it.”
Iyana based her essay on light.
“We need light for everything; to live ... to grow ... for me to be writing this. Light makes the world brighter,” Iyana wrote in her essay.