For 10-year-old Sara Hinesley, winning a national handwriting competition isn’t that big a deal.
The competition was just something she and her classmates took part in, as part of a school day not much different to any other.
For those who know her, however, Sara is a remarkable youngster. Writing in English and Mandarin, sculpting and painting, she consistently goes defies expectations, despite being born with no hands.
The third-grade student at St. John’s Regional Catholic School in Maryland, came top in the 2019 Nicholas Maxim award for cursive handwriting.
The award is given out once a year to two students with special needs, one for print writing, and the other for cursive, The Washington Post reports.
Cheryl Churilla, Sara’s third-grade teacher, said:
I have never heard this little girl say, ‘I can’t’. She’s a little rock star. She tackles absolutely everything you can throw at her, and she gives it her best.
The ten-year-old has never worn prosthetics, and often refuses to use tools that might help her with everyday tasks.
As her mother, Cathryn Hinesley, said:
She has this independent streak where she just knows that she can do it and she’ll figure out her own way. She is beautiful and strong and mighty just the way she is, and she just lives that way. She really does.
You can watch Sara displaying her award-winning handwriting here:
Sara grips her pencil between both arms to write, focusing on the shape and curve of each letter, as she says: ‘I like the way the letters are formed, it’s kind of like art.’
The talented young girl arrived in the US from China around four years ago. She could already speak and write in Mandarin and, according to her mum, picked up English very quickly with the help of her sister Veronica.
We learned pretty quickly to trust her judgment and let her gauge how much she wants to do and then let her do it. That’s Sara. She moves through life in this way that you never really see her as having a disability because she has this can-do, I-can-tackle-anything attitude.
Sara is a testament to perseverance and the human spirit. Every day I’m amazed at the things she is able to do and that she chooses to do. She doesn’t try to find her way to avoid an obstacle, she finds a way to complete the task.
As well as a trophy for the handwriting award, Sara will receive a $500 prize.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.