Friday, 20 April 2012

Annie Clark Wins Penmanship Award by Writing with her Forearms

Annie Clark of Pittsburgh, seven years old, says that she was "Not really scared" but "kind of" when she accepted the Nicholas Maxim Award. She is one of two students to receive the prize, awarded for the first time this year by educational publisher Zaner-Bloser Inc., to students with disabilities for exemplary penmanship.

Clark was born without hands. She writes with her pencil between her forearms. Her adoptive parents, Mary Ellen and Tom Clark, couldn't be prouder of her, and hope that this experience reinforces to her that she can do anything.

Annie Clark Already Does A Great Deal

Mary Ellen may worry that Annie sometimes wishes for hands, but we must remember that Annie is only seven years old and surrounded by "abled" peers. She may not recognize how remarkable it is that she gets along so well with no hands.

Annie uses her forearms to feed and dress herself and even paint her toenails. "In addition to writing, she paints, draws and colors. She plays the board game Battleship and swims. She dresses herself and opens cans of soda pop. She uses her iPod Touch and computers without assistance," says

Annie's school didn't know that the Zaner-Bloser competition had a division for students with disabilities. Annie won penmanship award for her entire school. It was only when her name was forwarded to the state level that the contest officials suggested that she be put in the division for children with disabilities.

I'm curious to know whether Annie was offered the opportunity to compete with the other students who won first prize at their schools. If so, which option was she encouraged to take, and by whom? If not, why does the presence of a disability automatically mean that she was labelled and put into a certain class of competition, regardless of her ability level?

Not That Having a Disability or Annie Clark Competing in that Division is A Bad Thing...

Or that it should take away from her victory in any way.

Perhaps her parents thought that being in the disability division was the better option for her.

Perhaps Annie Clark wanted to be in the disability division.

But if Zaner-Bloser compelled Annie Clark or her family to put her in the disability division - shame on them. They should have known that she deserved to to compete with the other students who had come first at their schools, regardless of her disability.

USA Today Article:

TribLive News Article:


  1. [...] The Girl With the Cane: Annie Clark Wins Penmanship Award by Writing with her Forearms. First she did better than anyone else in her school, all of whom have use of their [...]

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