News – Seven Year Old With No Hands Wins National Handwriting Award

Little Annie Clark, just seven years old, has made a remarkable achievement. Born without hands, Annie has refused to let her disability hinder her in any way, and without breaking a sweat, has taken home first prize for none other than handwriting in a national contest.

The contest was put on by the Zaner-Bloser language arts and reading company, which awarded two national winners trophies and a $1,000 prize. This is the first year that awards were offered to disabled students, and Annie’s co-winner is another student from Ohio who is visually impaired. The award was created to honor Nicholas Maxim, a fifth-grade student born without hands or lower arms who entered the competition last year.

In a time when penmanship has been pushed aside by typing skills, Annie’s school still believes that it is very important, and encourages its students to enter the competition each year. Students who enter the contest are initially judged by teachers at the school and then the best example from each grade is sent to the company for the national contest. Annie was chosen as the winner of all of the first grade students, and her entry was sent to Zaner-Bloser without the knowledge that a disabled category existed, but with a letter explaining that Annie had no hands. Upon receiving her entry along with that letter, contest organizers immediately forwarded her writing sample to the people who managed the competition for disabled students.

Annie’s prize was given to her during an assembly held at her school. When the purpose of the assembly was announced and Annie heard her name called over the loud speaker, she was simply stunned as she quickly and quietly walked to the front to accept her prize and a trophy half as big as she was. At the conclusion of the assembly, she left with her fellow students so that she wouldn’t miss her math lesson, but returned shortly afterwards to speak with reporters about her award.

Annie’s ability to write so well stems from her determination for perfection and self sufficiency. Above and beyond common tasks like dressing and feeding herself, Annie rides a bike and swims, and even paints her toenails. She also has no problem typing on a keyboard or using an iPod Touch.

When writing with a pen or pencil, she exhibits incredible dexterity considering that she has no fingers. She pinches her writing instrument of choice between her arms and rocks it back and forth with dutiful concentration and will quickly flip a pencil over and erase any mistakes. As she relayed to reporters, she “learned to go slow.”

Annie is a shining example of what determination can give a person. Not just awards or recognition, but a quality of life that is beyond compare and the knowledge that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.


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