You Write It Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our You Write It Contest in the December 10, 2012, issue. We couldn’t have written these articles better ourselves!

Click here to read the You Write It interview that inspired these articles.

Check out the winning entries below:

“I Can Do Anything”

Aaryana K.
Sarawak, Malaysia

Since primary school, every child has been taught about his or her five senses; sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Every one of these is important in order to do the daily activities we do—sight in particular. Now imagine one of those senses were taken away from you. BOOM! Your range shrinks.

But not for Lola Walter.

Ever since she was a baby, she has suffered from a condition called achiasma. The signals her brain sends to her eyes don't work as well as they should. This means that Lola isn't able to focus properly on objects, her eyes constantly move about, and she sees double. So many things got in her way, such as the fact that she needs large-print books, and that all her friends will be able to get a driver's license, but Lola never will! What could someone like that become? What could her future be?

I'm quite sure “gymnast” isn't the first word that comes to your mind.

Why? Think of all the qualities a good gymnast should have: flexibility, strength, precision, accuracy, and balance. In the end, most of these qualities require a good visual sense of everything around you, which Lola has had to live 13 years without. Yet, she still chose to defy the rules, and follow her dreams. It’s difficult, no doubt, for her to master a new skill, but her hard work and the support of her team have taken her far.

“I can do anything my teammates can do,” she said in an interview. It can be daunting at times too, to stay focused while performing exhausting routines and mind-boggling flips. Lola also added that the beam in particular is probably the scariest, as it is only four inches wide. “When I bend backwards,” she said, “I don't know when my hands are going to touch the beam.” However, Lola recently landed her first back handspring, and that is an amazing achievement.

So how exactly does this brilliant gymnast pull it off? “Before I compete, I visualize my routines in my head.” Then, she states, “My teammates tell me when to start.” Many spectators have no idea that Lola is blind and neither do the judges. She doesn't wish to be judged differently than everybody else, as she feels it unfair.

Lola is someone who chose to go against the stereotypical thoughts the world has about disabled people. She shows the world that nothing is impossible if you really put your mind to it and work hard for your dreams. Nobody has ever told Lola that she can’t do something, and nobody should ever tell you that either.

Abhik M.
Upper Arlington, OH

Lola Walter, a thirteen-year-old gymnast from Olympia, Washington, is legally blind, but “can do anything.” She has a congenital condition called achiasma, which means that she has neither depth perception nor visual focus. Her condition also causes her to see double.

Lola encounters many difficulties in her daily life because of her legal blindness. Unlike her friends, she is not capable of driving. In school, she needs to be close to the board and use textbooks with large print.

As a gymnast, Lola faces a myriad of obstacles, but she overcomes them through her inner strength. To conquer her difficulties, she envisions her routines in her mind. This way, she knows whether she is executing the routine correctly. Lola’s main hardship is her inability to see where she is on the apparatus. She is especially nervous on the beam because of its four-inch width. “When I bend backwards, I don’t know when my hands are going to touch the beam,” she says. However, her unflinching courage helps her to rise above her nervousness; she recently completed her first back handspring.

The hill that Lola has to climb everyday is steepened by the standards she has set for herself. She refuses to be treated differently by the judges of gymnastic competitions. She wants to be treated on par with her competitors. Lola’s teammates love her for her fairness and diligence. Their encouragement boosts her confidence and self-belief.

Lola’s spirit is invincible. She is fully aware of her challenges, and she faces and defies them. She is an example to the world that nothing is impossible.

Katie L.
Portland, OR

Seeing gymnasts’ smiles after finishing every routine is unforgettable, but the audience often forgets about their hard work and patience during every practice. It’s hard enough to be a gymnast who goes through all the trainings, so it’s almost impossible to believe that one blind gymnast, Lola Walter, can do the same and surpass others in terms of both skills and persistence.

Lola, a 13-year-old girl from Olympia, Washington, is a superstar in her mastered sport—gymnastics. She has achiasma, a condition which causes her eyes to move constantly, making it difficult for her to focus on things and causing her to see double. She is legally blind, but that never stops her from reaching her dream. She is Lola Walter.

Having achiasma has given Walter many difficulties in daily life. Not only does she have to sit close to the board in classes, she also needs to read words that are printed much larger than normal. Driving is a must to every teenager, but Walter can’t.

During competitions, many spectators can’t even tell Walter is mostly blind. She visualizes the routines in her head, and her teammates tell her when to start and the scores afterwards. Her performance makes her just like or even better than her competitors.

Despite all the success, Walter is extremely humble, giving much of the credit to her teammates and coaches for her accomplishments. More importantly, she also has self-confidence. “I can do anything my teammates do,” says Walter during the Scope interview.

Some of the routines, though, are extremely scary. Balance beam is a good example. It's only four inches wide, and it’s hard to predict the timing for the hands to touch the beam. But with hard work and a determined will, she has finally landed on her first back handspring recently.

Walter could be scored with lenience by the judges if she revealed her condition. Unexpectedly, the 13-year-old tells the interviewer, “I don't want to be scored any differently than my teammates. I feel that would be unfair.” Her statement highlights both her self-confidence and the sense of fairness in her own mind.

Luckily, Walter is surrounded by a very supportive team. They never doubt her abilities and have given her encouragement in the past years. With endless practices and overcoming countless struggles, Walter was crowned as the “hardest worker” by her team in 2011.

Lola Walter does what seems impossible with her never-ending persistence. Struggle after struggle, problem after problem, she always stands back up and continues to pursue her goals. Walter’s story has proven that anything is possible in this world.

 

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