Seven year old first-grader Annie Clark, a girl without hands, won a national award and $1,000 in a handwriting competition. She is the recipient of the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship, a prize from educational publisher Zaner-Bloser Inc. that recognizes disabled students with exceptional handwriting.
Annie, who is from Pennsylvania, writes by holding a pencil between her two arms, accepted the award from the basketball court at Wilson Christian Academy. Students and faculty cheered her as she wore all yellow in honour of the school’s colors.
Her father Tom was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying: “Annie has always been very, very determined, very self-sufficient in dressing herself and feeding herself…She can ride a bike. She swims. She is just determined that there’s nothing she can’t do.”
Born in a family of nine children, Annie is a sister to five other siblings adopted from China.
Most of Annie’s siblings, both the adopted ones and those born biologically to her parents, have disabilities.
Annie uses to feed and dress herself in the same way as she writes. She even paints her own toenails by wedging a brush between both the arms.
His father said Annie’s determination has helped her learn to swim, ride a bike, type on a keyboard and use an iPod touch, her father.
The Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, now in its 21st year, is an annual event, open to grade school students, which celebrates penmanship in a largely digital world.
The Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship was instituted to honour Nicholas Maxim, a fifth-grader from Maine born without hands or lower arms. To win the Maxim award, students must have a cognitive delay or intellectual, physical or development disability.
Annie’s mother, Mary Ellen Clark, told the daily: “She is just proud to be her and as a parent, I’m just thrilled with that.”