FORT BENNING, Ga. - Six-year-old Megan Johnson, a kindergartner at Wilson Elementary School, was the youngest winner of this year's Armed Services YMCA Student Art Contest.

Her portrait of her military family, which placed second in the Army category among hundreds of submissions, featured herself standing between her parents, PFC Jacob and Gwendolen Schell. The winners, announced last week, received a U.S. savings bond: $500 for first place and $100 for second.

"I'm real excited," said Megan, after finding out about winning. "I worked really hard and I focused, and I just felt good about winning. I love to draw all the time. Sometimes I use my imagination. I want to be an artist when I grow up."

Megan added other items to her drawing from her memories of Fort Benning, including a paratrooper, plane and butterfly. The final result was amazing, said Audrey Leanza, the art teacher at Wilson who submitted the drawings.

"It was excellent," she said. "Hers had a lot of nice details; the size was perfect, the proportions of the people. (In) every drawing little kids do, there's something to be seen. They come from the heart."

Megan said she loves her Army family, which includes four sisters and one brother.

"We'll get together and do projects, and it's really fun," she said. "When we have family meetings, nobody's missing, not one person."

"I'm just really excited for her," Gwendolen said. "It's a great program, and I think it's neat that all the kids get a chance."

The DoD-wide contest, which began in 1996, was started as a way to honor military families, said Susan Simms, branch manager for ASYMCA corporate relations.

"Megan Johnson is in kindergarten and the development of those fine motor skills are still being honed," she said. "Yet, you see the family members are smiling, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the flag is waving. In my eyes, these are pretty good signs she's got a positive outlook on things."

The contests, including the ASYMCA essay contest for first through 12th grades, lets children express their feelings, Simms said.

"Keep in mind that many children Megan's age ... have spent their entire time on this earth with mom or dad ... deployed more than with the family at home," she said. "If these contests help the kids focus for just a little while on the importance of family, then they have been a success."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16