Handwriting is often a dreaded part of the elementary school curriculum, but for Anaya Ellick, a Virginia first grader, mastering good penmanship represents just another of her many accomplishments. The young student, who was born without hands, just won the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship. Ellick, who was one of 50 students who entered the contest, has spent her life exceeding expectations: she figured out how to feed herself, build with blocks, cut, glue, and color, by modifying the way that she held objects between her arms. She conquered her handwriting tasks by holding the pencil between her two forearms, meticulously forming the words and sentences required for the contest, which was open to children who have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability. Ellick, whose arms end at the wrists, blew away the judges by the quality of her handwriting, which they said was comparable to children who have the use of their hands. The 7 year-old stopped using prosthetic hands at the age of five when she realized how well she could function without them — and it doesn’t seem like there is much Ellick can’t do when she sets her mind to it. The next time your kid complains about practicing penmanship, tell her to invoke Ellick’s positive attitude, careful and precise attention, and willingness to practice until she accomplishes her goals.
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