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'It's Just Absolutely Beautiful': Girl With No Hands Wins National Handwriting Contest for Second Time

06-06-2018
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Anaya Ellick doesn't let anything stop her from doing the things she enjoys.

"I just like writing in cursive," the 9-year-old told CBN News.  "If I'm sad and I draw it makes me feel happy."

Born without hands, the third grader, who attends Greenbrier Christian Academy, uses her forearms to write.  When she was a year old, her grandmother taught her to steady the pencil between her two wrists.

Her mother Bianca Middleton says the family decided against the use of a prosthesis.

"They actually started to hinder her rather than help her," said Middleton. She didn't want them anymore. She had already started learning how to do different things without them. She learned to write and draw without them."

In a time with mainly computer keyboards and no emphasis on writing or spelling, teachers at the school say teaching students cursive writing is a vital part of their development.

Sara Cannady is Anaya's teacher. 

"Research has shown that the part of the brain that does writing is closely related to children learning to read and to spell," Cannady said.  "And doing cursive writing they learn to look at the word as a whole and so that is very important for their fluidity in reading and for them to be able to write words as a whole."

School officials recently entered Anaya in a national cursive writing competition.  

Anaya's work went under a category for students with cognitive delays, intellectual, physical or developmental disabilities, which was judged by a team of occupational therapists. 

Facing stiff competition and strict guidelines, the little girl with no hands came out on top.

Teachers and contest organizers say Anaya's handwriting skills are absolutely amazing.

"The people that judge the contest do it on the keys of legibility, which is the size, the shape, the slant and the spacing of the letters so they don't all scrunch in together and when you look at her handwriting it's just absolutely beautiful.  To think that she can do that without any hands is very impressive," said Dale Figg of contest organizer Zaner-Bloser.  
  
"She won for a manuscript when she was in first grade so we were excited to be able to enter her again for her cursive handwriting," said Tracy Cox, the school's elementary school teacher." 

"And just to see that it's continued and it's beautiful. I mean it really is some of the best handwriting in her class," added Cox.

Others, including Anaya's family members, are also impressed.

"It's amazing to watch and it's also motivating to like when I hit spaces, you know I'm like oh this is impossible but I can't do this and it's like I never heard her say because I don't have, I can't," said her dad Andre Ellick.

"The biggest thing Anaya has taught our class is that there are no excuses," said Cannaday. 

And how does Anaya feel about taking home an even bigger trophy this year?

"Proud," she commented.

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