Girl Born Without Hands Wins National Handwriting Competition

Inspiring |

Winning a national handwriting award is quite an achievement for anyone, especially in this digital age. A surprising number of adults cannot write. Some say handwriting is a dying art. But a little girl from Chesapeake, Virginia begs to differ, as she proves (once again) that disability is not the same thing as inability.

Anaya Ellick, who is now 7 years old, was born without hands. She also does not use prosthetics. She was fitted for them once upon a time, but she eventually decided it was easier just to use her natural arms for almost any task she wanted to accomplish. Still, Anaya's disability has not stopped her from winning the Zaner Bloser 2016 National Handwriting Competition, held in Ohio earlier this year. Zaner Bloser has been in the education business for about 125 years. The competition is open to children with special needs. A team of occupational therapists judges the Zaner Bloser National Handwriting Competition. But Anaya's writing sample was comparable to someone who has hands.

Anaya is a first grader at Greenbrier Christian Academy, a private school in Chesapeake. Anaya traveled with her mother all the way to Ohio to participate in the competition, and ended up the proud winner of the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for her masterful penmanship. Her technique? She writes by holding a pencil between her two wrists while standing at her desk.

Zaner Bloser created and named the award after Nicholas Maxim, a fifth grader from Maine who submitted outstanding cursive writing back in 2011, despite having been born without his lower arms and hands. His achievement received international media attention at the time.

According to Anaya's school principal, Tracy Cox, “Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of her doing what she has set out to do. She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class.” Anaya can do pretty much anything any other first grader can do, from cutting, to gluing, to folding, to drawing, to picture perfect penmanship. Despite her disability, Anaya never complains about anything.

Anaya's mother says, “Her road will be long, but she will persevere.”

For her valiant effort at the penmanship competition, Anaya received a check for a thousand dollars and a trophy almost as big as Anaya herself. She had to beat out fifty other competitors to win the award. And those fifty competitors were selected out of more than three hundred thousand handwriting submissions!

According to her mother, Bianca Middleton and her father, Gary Ellick, Anaya never needs any help with anything. As an infant, Anaya figured out how to cup her pacifier in her arms. As a toddler, she could eat with a fork and build with blocks. Anaya learned to draw at the age of five. Now that she's won her penmanship award at age 7, she has already moved on to her next lofty accomplishment.

Anaya wants to be a karate master! 

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Jessie Lee


When it comes to movie knowledge and trivia, Jessie is the girl to see. From movie quotes to soundtracks to character information, Jessie is a walking movie encyclopedia. Why we found the perfect place for her to put her unique skills to use would be writing for our entertainment department.