Girl Born Without Hands Wins National Handwriting Competition

Imagine being born without hands. Now, despite this, imagine learning how to write with no assistance. And then, imagine learning how to write so well that you win a national handwriting competition.

This is the story of amazing seven-year-old Anaya Ellick. Read on to learn all about Anaya, her disability and how her can-do attitude allows her to do everything she sets her mind to.

All About Anaya

Anaya Ellick just finished first grade at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia. When she applied to attend the school, the superindent, Ron White, learned that Anaya did not have hands. As a result, he didn’t know if the school could meet Anaya’s needs. But Anaya’s parents made it clear that their little girl didn’t require any unique accommodations. Despite being born without hands, Anaya can write just like any other child.

Anaya has perfected a way to write with no prosthetics or any help at all. She simply stands at her desk and grips the pencil between her forearms to achieve the proper angle needed for writing. That way, she has perfect handwriting — so perfect, in fact, that her principal quickly noticed!

Anaya Ellick

National Handwriting Competition

When Anaya’s school principal, Tracy Cox, realized how impeccable her handwriting was, she knew that Anaya’s story had to be shared. Cox entered Anaya into the Zaner-Bloser 2016 National Handwriting Competition.

In April 2016, Anaya learned that she had beaten out 50 other children to win the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship! This unique category is for students in kindergarten through eighth grade who have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical or developmental disability.

The competition was judged by a panel of occupational therapists. As the winner, Anaya took home a trophy and a $1,000 check. Her school also received a framed certificate honoring Anaya, as well as a gift certificate to be spent on print and digital resources for students and teachers.

Zaner-Bloser created and named this award in January 2011 when they received an entry from Nicholas Maxim, who was then a fifth-grade student from Readfield, Maine. Maxim submitted an outstanding entry, despite the fact he had been born without his lower arms and hands. His achievement received international media attention and inspired students everywhere.

No Excuses

Although it would be understandable if Anaya complained about her disability once in awhile, she doesn’t. Anaya’s positive attitude and the way she tackles every obstacle inspires everyone around her.

Cox shares, “When you look at this little girl who was born without hands who has some of the neatest handwriting in her class and who can do so much on her own independently… that just removes excuses from our lives of things that we think we can’t do.” She further explains, “There is truly very little that this girl cannot do. She is a hard worker. She is determined. She is independent. She is a vivacious and a no-excuses type of young lady.”

Anaya’s mother, Bianca Middleton, echoes those sentiments. She explains, “People always say, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s beyond her years in her way of thinking and how she speaks, everything that she does.’ She helps teach me things I take for granted every day. I look at her like, ‘Wow.’ She’s not complaining. Never complains.”

Anaya Ellick has set out to show all of us that, despite disabilities, we can achieve anything we set our mind to. Great job, Anaya, and let’s keep the momentum going!


  1. Lavita Williams

    June 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Beautiful and inspiring story. Reminds me of Oscar Pistorius. He is the fastest runner with no legs. I also have a mental disorder, I have Schizophrenia. Her mom have my name Bianca, my middle name is Bianca. Great story. Wonderful.
    Lavita Williams 🎨📒🗞


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