Cold Spring student wins Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers essay contest

6th-grader Nate Heck 1 of 10 national winners
Posted at 4:30 AM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 06:47:50-04

COLD SPRING, Ky. -- Seventy-one years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, his impact continues to help young people.

Nate Heck, a sixth-grader at St. Joseph's School in Cold Spring, is one of 10 national winners of the Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers essay contest. Nate won a laptop after writing about his battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

"I've had that for a few years and I just felt like it was the perfect thing to write about," he said.

Nate's teacher, Elizabeth Mulrey, said he stated things very clearly and put his heart into the essay.

"In fifth grade, I didn't have many friends because of it, because I really didn't have any time to hang out with friends," Nate said. "And I felt scared because they will touch stuff."

OCD impacts about 1 to 2 percent of children. Nate's OCD was so severe that his parents had to take him to the doctor for a rash that was caused by excessive hand washing. 

There are certain symptoms parents can look for, according to Beverly Smolyansky, a staff psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"For him, it was a lot of contamination fears: touching doorknobs, touching desks at school or things that other people had touched," Smolyansky said.

OCD is a chronic condition that comes in many forms. Nate's parents credit Children's Hospital with much of his progress over the last year.

Nate has made a lot of progress, prompting him to share his story.

He said he wants to "try to spread awareness for all OCD victims so that they don't get made fun of, and they don't get yelled at just the same way as Jackie Robinson was."