"I've met like four Anikas," Anika Armstrong says, only slightly surprised she'd found others with her first name. "But I met one kid at school with a heart condition and I was blown away."
Anika was born with an atrial septal defect or ASD. "It was repaired three years ago. The repair was small, but it has made a huge difference," she says.
Sitting in the heart clinic waiting room recently, Anika spotted a tiny notice for Merry Heart Children's Camp and was immediately excited about volunteering. "I just think it's so great," she says.
Like fellow counselors Max and Dave, she's looking forward to her duties at the camp so she can visit with other heart patients and watch the campers develop relationships of their own. She wants the campers to know they're not alone and that there are other kids like them.
Anika just graduated from Battle Ground High School and the Clark County Skills Center Criminal Justice program. She's been an Explorer with the Clark County Sheriff's Department for two years and plans to start college in the spring.
Anika answers a few more questions below:
What's the coolest thing you've ever done?
The coolest thing I have ever done would definitely be when I went to Georgia, North and South Carolina last summer. I went with eight other students from Washington state to propose laws and debate at the YMCA Youth Conference On National Affairs (CONA). The delegates made me proud to be an American and confident in our future as students and as a country. It was an amazing life changing experience that I will never forget.
Are you an outdoorsy person? What do you like the most about being in the woods in Oregon?
I love hiking or just walking through the woods. My favorite is when I randomly find a water hole to swim in.
Do you have a motto, a mantra that you keep in the back of your mind?
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela
Who or what do you respect the most?
I respect the people who are everyday heroes. Doctors, cops, really anyone who does something good for others on a daily basis, people who work to make a brighter tomorrow.
Did you have a chance to go to a camp as a kid?
Yes, I went to a summer horse camp a few times. I remember stepping out of my comfort zone and meeting new people and trying new fun things.