Headlines

First Grader Born Without Hands Wins Penmanship Competition


A 7-year-old girl from Virginia, who was born without hands, has won first place in a penmanship competition.

Read: Meet Mahe, The Service Dog That Soothed Boy with Autism During Hospital Visit

Anaya Ellick, a first grader from Chesapeake, grips a pencil between her two forearms and stands up to get the right angle. She does not use prosthetics, WTKR reported

Greenbrier Christian Academy principal Tracy Cox told InsideEdition.com that every year, she enrolls her students in the National Handwriting Competition, run by Zaner-Bloser.

When she came across the paperwork for the Nicholas Maxim award that's restricted to students with "a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability," according to the school, she immediately thought of Anaya and knew she would succeed.

Representatives from Zaner-Bloser arrived to Anaya's school earlier this week and presented her with a trophy and a cash award for being named the national winner of the penmanship contest.

Anaya's mom, Bianca Middleton, told InsideEdition.com that she would have never expected this day when she was born. Doctors are still unsure why Anaya was born without hands, she said.

"I want her to always push herself," she said. "I don't want her feeling bad for herself. Nope, that's not happening at this home."

Just like other kids, Middleton said Anaya grew up drawing in coloring books and painting on walls.

Middleton said that even though she and her mom, a special education teacher, first tried different techniques to accomodate Anaya, "she kind of got the technique on her own. No one taught her how to hold a pencil, and she made it work."

From just 3 years old, Anaya started practicing her letters with the help of her grandmother. So it was no surprise that Anaya was practically an expert when she arrived at the Greenbrier Christian Academy School.

When Anaya first applied to the school, Cox said the administration was concerned about whether they would be successful in giving her the best schooling possible. 

"[We] said, 'Alright, are we going to be able to meet her needs?'" Cox said. But once the school year started, they quickly realized that the student was equally as capable as her other first-grade classmates.

The school's superintendent Dr. Ron White, said, "Unless you went in and knew she did not have hands, you would think she's like every other kid in that classroom."

Read: Girl With Autism, 6, Comes Out Of Her Shell With The Help of Her Loyal Companion Cat

In the year she has been at the Greenbrier Christian Academy, Cox said she practices writing every day as a part of normal school curriculum, although attributes much of her success to her support at home.

"It's easy to look at someone and make assumptions based on appearances," the school's principal said. "Anaya destroyed that perception."

Watch: The Touching Reason Why One Man Lets His Wife Put Nail Polish On His Pinky