A Virginia third-grader, who was born without hands, has been honored for her skillful penmanship with a prestigious award.
Anaya Ellick, 9, of Chesapeake, won the 2018 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, under the Nicholas Maxim category.
Anaya’s mom taught her how to write when she was younger. She didn’t use a prosthesis when she learned to hold the pencil between her two arms to write and draw.
"It wasn’t really hard," Anaya told News 3. "She would help me form the letter."
In 2016, Anaya won the award for her print writing. This time around, she was determined to learn cursive.
"I’m proud because it encourages her," said Anaya’s mother, Bianca Middleton. "For her to see that hard work does pay off."
Her teachers say Anaya is a great example to others.
"Anaya is a role model to everyone," her teacher, Sarah Cannaday, said. "Her classmates see her and see her doing the same tasks they are and they are often amazed that she can do just as well as they do, sometimes even better."
To be eligible for the Nicholas Maxim Award, a student must have a cognitive delay or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability.
A team of occupational therapists serve as judges.
Her parents say Anaya hasn’t let her situation stop her from anything.
"She’s really independent — from tying shoes, putting on clothes, getting baths..." said Gary Ellick, Anaya’s father. "It was always like 'I can do it.' So, that just carried on over the years."