The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association launched National Handwriting Day in 1977 to build awareness of the importance of handwriting. This year, the day gets congressional backing.
National Handwriting Day, which both celebrates John Hancock’s large, flourishing signature on the Declaration of Independence and builds awareness to the benefits of handwriting, is January 23. Sponsored by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA), National Handwriting Day is celebrating its 41st year by receiving congressional support.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) introduced congressional resolution H.Res. 654 to support the designation of January 23—which also happens to be John Hancock’s birthday—as National Handwriting Day. The resolution also underscores the educational, cognitive, and artistic benefits of handwriting.
“It’s been something we’ve been trying to do for a long time,” said WIMA Executive Director David H. Baker. “Ironically, it’s something we were going to do on the 40th anniversary, but there was something called an inauguration last year, so that interfered with our plans.”
Thinking it would be better to wait for 2018 when the news wasn’t so saturated with the then incoming U.S. President, WIMA created a draft of important points in early 2017 and sent it over to Representative Tonko’s office for consideration.
“They took our very rough draft and made it into a resolution, and then were able to get bipartisan support from Congressman Leonard Lance, so I give all the credit to Tonko and Lance,” Baker said.
The resolution comes at a crucial time, when there is a renewed focus on the cognitive skills developed both by handwriting and cursive handwriting, Baker said. “I think there is a renewed interest in the value of children forming letters, both block letters and cursive letters, to help develop their cognitive learning skills, and we’re delighted to see that,” Baker said, but at the same time, “some schools have eliminated handwriting as a course. Many schools eliminated cursive, so there is a trend the other way.”
In addition to National Handwriting Day, WIMA hosts an active Facebook page with activities related to handwriting, and it encourages member companies to continue to be advocates for handwriting at its annual meeting. Baker notes that many of WIMA’s member companies do have their own handwriting programs that dovetail with WIMA’s objectives.
Baker says the goals of all of these programs are clear. “We would like to see more handwriting in the schools, more promotion of handwriting in the schools,” he said. “We would like the national associations involved with education and the Department of Education reaffirm their support for handwriting.”