Centennial Hills resident Oniana Boulware isn’t your typical 8-year-old. Although she keeps her sense of fashion, she also enjoys raising awareness about women’s right to education and the horrors of war.
This year, her humanitarian instincts paid off when she was announced as the national winner of the annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest.
“I really want to make a difference in the world,” Oniana said.
Oniana’s winning story, titled “Eric’s Job,” was awarded first place amid the second-grade level entries.
The student at Hoggard Elementary School was chosen from thousands of submissions from 62 participating PBS stations across the country, said Jessica Carroll, Ready To Learn coordinator for Vegas PBS.
A team of judges, which included writers, producers and children’s media creators, awarded Oniana first place in the national contest.
Entries were judged based on creativity and originality of plot and themes, story structure and use of literary devices and relevance, quality and originality of illustration.
Oniana became the first student from Southern Nevada to place first in the national contest.
“This is a great thing for Las Vegas and the community,” Carroll said. “It shows what remarkable talent we have here.”
Her family was not surprised that she won.
“She is very motivated and emotionally intelligent,” said her mother, Nancy Boulware. “She has always been sensitive to how others are feeling. This award is just a recognition of her personality.”
Her father, federal judge Richard Boulware, attributes his daughter’s success to her hard work and keen understanding of the world.
“She has always been a creative and inquisitive child,” he said. “She put so much time and energy into her work. I thought she had a very compelling story, and I am incredibly proud of her.”
Her story challenges stereotypical male and female roles in employment while learning self-acceptance.
“The story is based on my life,” Oniana said. “I used to get teased because of my (frizzy) hair. I wanted to write about characters who are different, so people could learn to stand up for themselves.”
Oniana submitted her entry in April and said it took her a month to write and illustrate the nine-page story. She added a unique twist to her artwork by using yarn as her character’s hair and glue and colored ink for the bubblegum.
The competition was created to empower children in grades kindergarten through fifth to celebrate creativity and build literacy skills by writing and illustrating their own stories, according to pbskids.org.
“Her story had a lot of voice,” Carroll said. “Her pictures are creative and outstanding. Her personality shined through, and we learned a lesson from it. She stood out.”
The contest has inspired her to become a writer, Oniana said.
She is set to receive an electronic prize from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. for winning the contest.
“She understands that the world is a very beautiful but complicated and difficult place for people,” Richard said. “She is a happy child with serious thoughts, and her work shows that.”
To read Oniana’s winning story, visit pbskids.org/writerscontest/read-stories/stories/erics-job.
Contact North View reporter Sandy Lopez at email@example.com or 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.