The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education is committed to furthering Helen Keller’s legacy, not only through advancements in medical research, but also through education. Accordingly, Mrs. Keller Johnson-Thompson, great-grand niece of Helen Keller, joined the Foundation in 1994 to develop the education component. Keller has been the hub for her family and the Foundation, educating the public on the many aspects of the life of her famous aunt through school programs, the internet, public speaking engagements and her relationships with other organizations interested in the legacy of Helen Keller. It is through these opportunities that Keller is able to share her aunt’s life story while also inspiring others to make a positive difference in the lives and the world in which they live. The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education understands that the message of courage and selflessness implied in Helen Keller’s legacy is and always will be important to transmit to new generations – both for its own value and as a means to promote public understanding of vision and hearing research.
The Helen Keller Character Education Program was the initial program of the Foundation’s Education Division, developed by Mrs. Keller Johnson-Thompson. Since 1994, Keller has visited more than 3,350 schools and touched the lives of 768,000+ students throughout the United States. During the Program, Keller displays approximately 80 photographs of Helen Keller throughout her life as she personally tells her aunt’s courageous story of triumph in the face of difficulty. Material that fits into the language, social studies, health and science segments of an elementary school curriculum are presented and discussed with the audience. The entire presentation lasts one hour, ending with a question and answer opportunity. While the Program is typically offered to 4th and 5th grade students, it can easily be adjusted to accommodate more mature audiences.
The Character Education Program provides a unique opportunity to influence the moral development of students by focusing on the character and achievements of Helen Keller. Helen once said “The highest result of education is tolerance”. She was shockingly different from other children, and her triumphs that have proven so attractive to young children for generations teach exactly the lessons needed to promote tolerance as an effective antidote to the many acts of bullying.
Long Distance Learning
In the spring of 2013, Mrs. Keller Johnson-Thompson partnered with the Alabama Department of Education through the University of Alabama, Office of Continuing Studies, to present the Character Education Program to schools throughout the state of Alabama by use of video casting. During these one-hour presentations, students can hear and see Keller and her props, and Keller is able to see and hear the students and teachers as well. Towards the end of the session, students are also able to converse with Keller through video casting technology and ask her questions about her great-grand aunt, Helen Keller. This Program is provided at no cost to public schools within the State of Alabama.
At the young age of six, Mrs. Keller Johnson-Thompson stood in front of her entire elementary school in Tuscumbia, Alabama and told them about her great-grand aunt, Helen Keller. Keller has since become a motivational, professional public speaker, using the life of Helen Keller to encourage others to overcome obstacles in their own lives, thus making the world a better place for others. She has spoken to countless adult groups across North America and in Europe.
Helen Adams Keller worked for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) headquartered in New York, New York, for over 40 years. Her great grand-niece, Mrs. Keller Johnson-Thompson, also volunteers for AFB where she holds the same title as that of her Aunt Helen – Ambassador. Through the AFB, Keller is able to have an active role in changing the ways that blind and visually impaired persons live their lives on a daily basis through independent living, employment, literacy, technology and governmental relations. As the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education strives to answer Helen Keller’s plea “To help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness”, it is grateful for the numerous ways in which AFB works to assist those who are blind and visually impaired. To find out more, visit American Foundation for the Blind.
Lions Clubs International is a secular service organization with over 45,500 clubs and approximately 1,368,683 members in 205 countries around the world. In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become “Knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness”, and the Lions answered her plea. Today, they perform many services; they do what is needed to help their local communities. They make friends wherever they work – with children who need eyeglasses – with seniors who do not have enough to eat – and with people they may never meet.
Keller is a member of the Tuscumbia, Alabama-USA Lions Club. Throughout her career, she has had a special place in her heart for Lions and their work. To find out more, visit Lions Club International.
Other organizations that are friends with the Helen Keller Foundation’s Character Education Division and provide valuable information are: the Helen Keller Birthplace Foundation, the Helen Keller Festival, the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the Perkins Institute for the Deaf and Blind.
Keller Johnson-Thompson Presenting a Plaque to Jim McClendon in Appreciation for his Support of the Helen Keller Character Education Program
About Keller Johnson-Thompson
Keller Johnson-Thompson has returned to live in Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA – Helen’s hometown and the site of Ivy Green, where Helen was born on June 27, 1880. Keller is the Foundation’s Vice President for Education and is available to speak at sponsored events worldwide, consistent with her schedule.