KidSpirit

No Boundaries

The Media That Raised UsAwesome Moments

When I was young, I would write poetry.

The poems would be about anything from a color or a season to a real-life event. Whatever it was, I would jot it down on a blank sheet of paper in class. I was always so excited to show my parents what I had done, even though the writing usually consisted of messy kindergarten scribbles. I was most proud of the poems that included rhymes, just like the Dr. Seuss books my mom used to read to me and my sister ever since we were newborns.

As I grew up, I didn't stop writing. My poems got stronger and stronger as I gained more experiences to write about. When I reached the fourth and fifth grade, I had a teacher that loved writing just as much as I did. She always encouraged me and was always thrilled to read my work. She often showed my class poems from famous writers such as Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Langston Hughes. Eventually, she helped me start a poetry club where she would teach me and some of my peers all about poetry and what goes into the art. My love for writing multiplied because of her, and not only did I continue with my poems, I expanded into short stories and memoirs as I got older. But even then, the freedom we had with our writing was minimal. There were strict topics we had to write about, which restricted my passion for writing.

In late fifth grade, a couple of months before I graduated from elementary school, my mom started submitting my work to various writing organizations in the media. Often, they would accept my work and post it on their website. But nothing really happened after that. I was always excited when they accepted a poem because that meant they liked it, but I would soon forget about it, and they would soon forget about me. At some point, my mom came across KidSpirit. She asked me if she could submit the most recent poem I had written, “Rainfall.”

Rainfall

I stand in a puddle staring
As my shirt and shoes get drenched.
I notice all the thoughts that wash up in the rain.
But its not only those things that appear
It is my worries that wash away.
I feel them fall down my neck
And onto my back
And drip down my legs
Into the puddle
For someone else to carry.
-Lyla Cheary, (original version)

I agreed but wasn’t really interested, believing KidSpirit to be just a mirror of my experiences with English classes and other writing organizations, where my work would be judged and eventually forgotten. Soon after submitting my poem, KidSpirit contacted my mom asking if I could join the editorial board. They gave a brief explanation about KidSpirit and what I was expected to do while I was there. I was super excited to go to my first KidSpirit meeting. I had never seen or heard of anything like this before and was curious to see what it would be like. As the date of the meeting crept up, I slowly got more and more nervous. I worried about what I might do or say, or how the other teens would act. However, when I got there, my nerves immediately calmed. Elizabeth and Jack were sitting on the other side of the room. They smiled at me when I walked in and kindly welcomed me to sit down. They talked to me briefly about how my day was and where in New York City I came from. They explained what we were going to do and that I wasn’t expected to contribute to the conversation if I didn’t want to. Immediately, I felt myself relax and forget the worry that KidSpirit would be an echo of the stressful school environment. “I think this might be something special,” I thought as I sat down.

I was right. Toward the end of my first year at KidSpirit, my family bought tickets to the KidSpirit Awards ceremony. This event ended up being a pivotal moment in my life. KidSpirit in general has been such an amazing experience for me, but the KidSpirit Awards is what solidified that. I was so excited to attend the ceremony. We would all get dressed up in our finest outfits and meet people that came to New York from all around the world. School, in my experience, never gave writers as much praise and attention as this. When I entered the hall, I immediately thought it was one of the most stunning venues I had ever seen. There were just about a hundred people milling about under the warm purple lights and tall marble ceilings. We all sat down with some people that we knew, or maybe some people that we didn't know. We discussed where we came from and our work with KidSpirit while we ate a delicious multi-course meal that ended with a mouth-watering chocolate mousse surrounded by vanilla cream. People came up on stage, illuminated by a bright spotlight, and discussed their work and some of the things that mattered most to them. In that moment, I realized the importance of KidSpirit, and of the media. KidSpirit brings us all together to discuss things ranging from what we ate for lunch yesterday to some of the most impactful things that have happened in our lives. There are no boundaries.

Writing with no boundaries was very different from what I was used to. My words were no longer bound by the limits school inflicted on me. I now had the power to write freely and on what I was passionate about. My writing can have more worth than just a grade. If it weren’t for KidSpirit, I wouldn’t have renewed this love of writing that started when I was a little girl.

Lyla Rae Cheary is 14 years old and currently lives in both Puerto Rico and New York City. In her free time, she loves to read, write poetry and stories, and work on architecture.

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