FORT HOOD, Texas - Eight-year-old Alexa Alston, the daughter of Amanda Alston and Master Sgt. William Alston, III Corps and Fort Hood NCO Academy, won the Army Young Lives, Big Stories 2021 Contest in the second and third grade category.
The Army Young Lives, Big Stories contest allows children ages three through grade 12 an opportunity to tell their story of being a military kid either through writing or drawing. It is held in April, the Month of the Military Child, to recognize the sacrifices that military children make.
According to Amanda, Alexa is an avid artist who treasures each of her pictures.
“She’s always drawing,” Amanda said. “When we’re cleaning her room, I’m always finding drawings. Even yesterday, she drew me a panda bear.”
Alexa said she wants to grow her passion and be an artist when she grows up.
“I want to draw people and animals,” she said about what she will draw when she grows up. “I like drawing pandas a lot, and llamas.”
Alexa’s heartwarming work of art depicts her father deploying and being away from the family at Christmas, then eventually reuniting with her and the family. She was proud her drawing won the contest and said her favorite part of her picture is her reuniting with her dad.
“It just reminds me about him, and I miss him a lot,” she said emotionally.
William’s favorite part of the drawing was Alexa’s depiction of him on FaceTime during Christmas.
“That’s quite a busy day for young children, and the fact that she remembered and took the time to draw those memories meant a lot to me,” he said.
Amanda is very proud of Alexa and loves that she can see a glimpse into what Alexa experiences as a military child.
“My favorite part was seeing what she expressed, how she feels,” Amanda said. “When he leaves, she’ll cry. Both of my daughters, I can tell that it affects them. Seeing what it means to be a military child, knowing that he’s going to leave, go serve and miss a lot of special holidays, their birthdays, Christmas, events at school (etc.).”
William wasn’t surprised when he found out Alexa won the contest.
“Alexa’s a brilliant child and her ability to express herself artistically is just a snapshot of her intelligence and one-of-a-kind personality,” he said.
Amanda believes it’s important for military kids to be encouraged to express themselves in different ways because it allows the parent to see how their child is feeling when they may not know how to express it in words.
“Their dad serves, he serves in the Army, but in a way, the military kids serve too because they sacrifice a lot. The parent, usually, they have the choice of enlisting in the Army, but for them (military kids), it’s not a choice.”
William also recognized the difficulties that military children go through and recognized the importance of them being encouraged to express themselves through different mediums.
“Being a military child is difficult. No matter how many changes in duty stations, deployments, and field exercises children endure, the life of a military child is still not routine or normal to the average American child,” he stated. “I believe no matter how many books, talks or interactions we have with our children, each child responds and copes differently with the rigors of having a parent who serves in the military. If art can be a platform for children to express themselves, then that’s fantastic.”