A 7-year old girl born without hands named Annie Clark from the Pittsburgh area has won a penmanship award and $1000 prize from Zaner-Bloser, Inc., a company that publishes language arts and reading textbooks. The company recognized Annie Clark at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin on Wednesday with its first-ever Nicholas Maxim Award. (Nicholas was a Maine fifth-grader born without hands or lower arms who entered the company’s penmanship contest last year. His work left such an impression on the judges that they created a new category for students with disabilities.)
Tragically, many children like Annie are never given the chance to share their talents with the world. Children with disabilities are routinely targeted for abortion, often at the recommendation of the medical community. For instance, statistics show as high as 90% or more of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.
Annie’s parents, Tom and Mary Ellen Clark, have nine children- three biological and six adopted from China. Four of the adoptees from China, including Annie, have disabilities that affect their hands or arms. The family also has an adopted daughter Alyssa and a biological daughter Abbey, who both have Down syndrome.
“Each time, we weren’t looking to adopt a special-needs child, but that is what happened,” said Mary Ellen told the Associated Press. “This was the family God wanted for us.” She hopes Annie’s award encourages her daughter “that she can do anything.”
The family says Annie has learned to paint, draw and color. She also swims, dresses, eats meals and opens cans of soda by herself, and uses her iPod touch and computers without assistance. She hopes to someday write books about animals.
“She’s an amazing little girl,” said her father Tom, “It’s a shame because society places so many rules on how people should look, but the minds of these kids are phenomenal.”
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In a society in which YouTube videos about human rights can go viral within hours and awaken the consciousness of millions of Americans and even members of Congress, it’s unthinkable that the plight of children with disabilities continues to go unnoticed. Anyone who has interacted with people with disabilities knows the immense joy they bring to the world. People with disabilities face unique challenges and difficulties but their lives enrich the world in which we live. The American Journal of Medical Genetics released a study showing that 99 percent of people with Down syndrome reported being happy with their lives.
Yet over 90%+ never get to live their lives beyond a few months in the womb. Is our society really better off denying the right to life to children with disabilities? Children like little Annie Clark give us just a glimpse of what we are missing in aborting so many children with disabilities.