Camp gives children a Helen Keller experience

Camp gives children a Helen Keller experience

Eleven happy campers and an inspiring real-life story contributed to the success of the 2016 Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience, co-sponsored by Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation.

We want to show students that...one person can make a difference in his or her own life.

The three-day camp—for vision- and hearing-challenged students in grades four through six—was held in mid-September at Keller's birthplace, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

"Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience is a camp to inspire and create hope for children facing obstacles created by disabilities," says Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation and the camp's organizer. "We want to show students that, through the fortitude and courage of Helen Keller and with the guidance and wisdom of Anne Sullivan, one person can make a difference in his or her own life."  

Keller was blind and deaf from an early age, yet her teacher, Sullivan, who also was sight impaired, opened up a world of education by teaching her student "fingerspelling." Since the camp started in 2013, Keller's story has been a source of inspiration.

Camp Courage provides a hands-on learning experience similar to those encountered by Keller. The motto of the camp: "Be Like Helen." Its goal is "to inspire campers to a higher level of achievement, both academically and socially.

Students from Alabama, Tennessee and Wisconsin attended the camp and were accompanied by supportive relatives. Among their mentors were students from the University of North Alabama.

"Watching the campers bond with each other and work together in team-building classes, along with other activities, was very rewarding," Pilkilton says. "One mother told us that her son would not go anywhere without her, but once he arrived and realized that he was with others like himself, he didn't want her around at all.

"We hope that more states will join in next year," she adds. "Our plans are to add two to three more campers."

How you can help
Individuals or organizations interested in supporting the experience can make a tax-deductible donation to Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience. Write a check made payable to "Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation" with "Camp Courage" on the memo line, and mail it to: Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141. Or, donate online by clicking here and selecting "Camp Courage: Helen Keller Experience."

November 4, 2016

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