Anaya Ellick

Not only does Anaya Ellick have some of the neatest handwriting in her class according to her school’s principal, Anaya’s handwriting is some of the best in the country. The 7-year-old first grader at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia, recently won the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship – handless.

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“We looked at her writing and were just stunned to see how well her handwriting was, considering she writes without hands,” Kathleen Wright, director  of the National Handwriting Contest sponsored by education company Zaner-Bloser, told ABC News. Wright added, “Her writing sample was comparable to someone who had hands.”

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Anaya was born without hands and chooses not to use prostheses. Bianca Middleton, Anaya’s mom, told WKTR news that her daughter has always been independent. “She ties her shoes. She gets dressed by herself. She doesn’t really need any assistance to do anything.”

To write, Anaya stands at her desk and uses her forearms to hold a pencil.

Anaya Ellick

Anaya’s winning entry

Gary Ellick, Anaya’s father, shared with WKTR that “It was a shock at first” when he and Bianca learned their daughter would be born impaired. But, seven years later, Anaya’s fierce determination has transformed that shock to pure inspiration.

The Nicholas Maxim Awards honor two special needs students each year for their handwriting mastery. Anaya’s penmanship won in a category that encourages submissions from students with intellectual, physical or developmental disabilities and was judged by a panel of occupational therapists.

According to the Zaner-Bloser website, Anaya wins a trophy, $1,000 and her school wins a gift certificate for print and digital resources.

7-Year-Old Girl Wins National Handwriting Competition – Without Hands!  was originally published on

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