When Anaya Ellick applied to attend Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Va. this year, the school’s superintendent, Ron White, wasn’t sure it could meet her needs. But her parents assured him that Anaya needed no special accommodations — she was just like any other kid in the first grade.

She just happened to be born without hands.

The 7-year-old does not use prosthetics, yet she does all her own writing in class. She stands at her desk and grips the pencil between her forearms. From that angle, she is able to write with perfect penmanship.

Her handwriting is so impeccable that her principal, Tracy Cox, entered her in a national handwriting competition in the category for students with special needs. In April, it was announced that she had beaten 50 other children to win the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship.

To look at her entry, it would be impossible to know it was written by a child without hands. Each block letter is flawless.

“She inspires everyone around her because you wonder how does she do this. And it’s not like she’s struggling to do this,” White said. “Where we see an obstacle, she sees an opportunity.”

During an assembly with older children, Cox told them about Anaya’s award. She teased them that they had no excuses for sloppy handwriting.

“It’s easy to complain about things that are hard, but you look at a little girl like her and we have no excuses for digging in and doing hard work,” Cox said. “Life is tough and we are going to be faced with challenges, but when you really apply yourself and have that determination, she shows amazing things can happen.”

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