Campers experience arts and nature through senses other than sight

Campers experience arts and nature through senses other than sight

Clockwise from right, State Rep. Marcel Black, Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, Mike McMackin, president of the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, and State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow with campers during Camp Courage, Sept. 24-26 in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

A dozen campers convened Sept. 24-26 at the birthplace of Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, Alabama, for the third annual "Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience."

Children are encouraged to "Be like Helen."

Helen Keller was born in 1880 and, when two years old, became both blind and deaf due to illness.  Yet she was a college graduate, an author, a lecturer, and one of the 20th Century's leading humanitarians.

A partnership between Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation and the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, Camp Courage offers blind or severely visually impaired and hearing impaired children a chance to learn about arts and nature using hands-on learning experiences similar to those encountered by Keller at that age.

Campers, each from 8 to 12 years old, are encouraged to "Be like Helen." Qualified instructors from the University of North Alabama help to advance campers' level of achievement, both academically and socially.

Sue Pilkilton, executive director for the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, says the purpose is to show campers the fortitude and courage of Helen Keller, and how, with the guidance and wisdom from her teacher, Anne Sullivan, one person can make a difference in his or her life.

"As I watched the UNA students crying and holding their campers at the closing of the Saturday evening event, I thought, 'Now I understand why Anne never wanted to let go of Helen,'" she says.

How you can help
This life-changing experience is made possible through the support of individuals and organizations nationwide, and if you would like to support this philanthropic cause, consider:

  • Making a tax-deductible donation to Camp Courage. Click here to make an online contribution to Optometry Cares-The AOA Foundation, and select "Camp Courage: A Helen Keller Experience" in the program designation box. Or, write a check payable to "Optometry Cares-The AOA Foundation" and write "Camp Courage" on the memo line, and mail it to: Optometry Cares-The AOA Foundation, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141.

  • Volunteering to serve on the planning committee for Camp Courage. Contact the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation at 256.383.4066 for more information.

Click the slideshow to see how this collaboration is making a difference, and find updates from the weekend at the Camp Courage Facebook page.

October 1, 2015

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