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School Years 4 to 5 Runner-up Freedom Never Comes by Cecilia Alarcon Bravo

Hi, I'm Lin and I'm 8 years old. It's a very, very hard time. When I mean 'very' I mean immensely hard. It's Covid we are in lockdown. We have not left the house for weeks. I miss my friends and my extended family. I cannot even look forward to school holidays because I'm not in school. I usually have clubs like ballet, piano, netball so much stuff- all gone! I have lost my freedom!

Now that I think of it, what is freedom? The dictionary describes it as: "The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants". To me freedom means being oneself without asking for permission. To be able to do what makes me happy without it hurting others. So why has my freedom been taken away from me and why does it hurt so much?

My parents say it is because of Covid ... we cannot get sick, and we must help others not get sick ... but how long for?

"Linny come to the garden, I have an idea," shouted dad.
"I'm called Lin," I answered as I ran down the steps. I found my dad bouncing my basketball he looked at me, before he changed his mind or his phone rang, like so many other times, I quickly ran to him not expecting anything great.

We played and played until mum called for dinner. We had the most delicious pasta ever. Somehow mum's cooking has developed during the lockdown. That night I went to bed with a smile, but also not really too excited about the next day.

When I woke up I felt that my dad was going to stomp in because we were late for school. To my surprise he no longer shouts or hurries me, instead we had a lovely family breakfast. Yes, we have some on line lessons, but it is not the same, there is no bus to run to.

This time mum had an idea: a family quiz! We called on all the family who joined via zoom. It was a blast. My cousins were ahead, nonetheless we tried hard to win. I really didn't care, I liked to see my family together and having fun.

You know what? Lockdown is not that bad ... we are lucky to spend more time with mum and dad. I think I'll leave you there I'm off to enjoy!

Judge Charles Durante’s comments:
“This story starts with the usual lockdown grouch: no freedom, no after-school activities; in fact, no school. Lin thinks about the freedom she’s been asked to sacrifice for her own good and that of her family. Slowly, she realises the potential for different activities during lockdown. Life has slowed down, allowing for a more leisurely pace, for family quizzes, for mum to hone her culinary skills, for dad to become more playful, for learning in the comfort of your own house. Though that much-coveted freedom would take a long time in coming, there were many compensating pleasures and Cecilia’s story depicts them in a very attractive manner.”

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