Seven-year-old Anaya Ellick is a first grader from Virginia now has the honor of saying that she has bested five other children from around the country to become the winner of a National Handwriting Contest. One of the things that makes this win so wonderful is that Anaya Ellick was born without any hands.
In a world where many persons with disabilities and special needs are viewed and treated differently, the principal of Anaya’s school Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake saw only her potential. The National Handwriting Contest is an annual event that promotes legible handwriting, and this year was its 25th year in operation. Any student from kindergarten to the eighth grade can enter the competition.
Tracy Cox, Anaya’s principal, is the one who encouraged the first grader to enter the handwriting competition, she told ABC News. Cox also stated that the little girl’s abilities are unending.
“There is truly very little that this girl cannot do. She is a hard worker. She is determined. She is independent. She is a vivacious and a no-excuses type of young lady.”
One of the other reasons why the little girl who was born without hands winning the handwriting contest is so inspiring is because she did so without the aid of prostheses. Anaya Ellick simply uses her forearms to write, having decided long ago to forego getting any prostheses. In order to write, Anaya stands while holding the pencil between both her arms until she can to get the right angle to begin.
Anaya’s penmanship won her the 2016 Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship. This particular category of the National Handwriting Contest specifically encourages students who possess a form of disability, whether it is cognitive delays, intellectual, physical or developmental disabilities. The winner of the category is selected by a team of occupational therapists.
The director of the competition, Kathleen Wright, stated that the handwriting from the little girl does not show her disability at all.
“We looked at her writing and were just stunned to see how well her handwriting was, considering she writes without hands. Her writing sample was comparable to someone who had hands.”
Anaya Ellick’s mother, Bianca Middleton, is the quintessential proud mother. She told media outlets that people are constantly underestimating and then impressed by her daughter’s talents.
“Out of this world, people always say ‘oh my gosh she is beyond her years how she speaks, everything that she does.'”
This win by Anaya is actually not the first time that someone without hands has won the competition. According to Life News, in 2012, the first winner of the penmanship award who had no hands was another 7-year-old girl, this time from Pittsburgh. Annie Clark was adopted at a young age from China, a country where disabilities like hers are often seen as reasons to abandon a child or not want to adopt them.
At the time of Annie’s win, her mother, Mary Ellen Clark, told the Associated Press that she hoped the award would convince the young girl that she truly could do anything. The inspiration has been contagious, and it seems that these heartwarming stories are also helping potential parents see that there is no reason a disability has to limit a person’s ability.
In a society that is still learning how to respect differences and often pressures persons to abort unborn babies who have disabilities, the value that special needs people bring to the table is starting to be recognized.
Andrew Bair, the columnist who wrote the piece about the first girl with no hands winning the National Handwriting Contest, mentioned the life and impact that persons with disabilities could have.
“Children like little Annie Clark give us just a glimpse of what we are missing in aborting so many children with disabilities.”
[Image via Greenbrier Christian Academy]