By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, dozens of hearing and visually impaired students were at the Alabama capital to be honored by Governor Robert Bentley (R) and members of the Alabama State Legislature for their participation in an educational program, Camp Courage, held at Ivey Green which is at the site of Helen Keller’s childhood home.
Governor Robert Bentley said, “It is an honor to be here and recognizing these students….It is an honor to be here and to be a part of Camp Courage…We all have ability and these kids are going to do great things with their abilities.”
Governor Bentley thanked the American Optometric Association and the Helen Keller Foundation for the work that they do at Camp Courage. Students from the University of North Alabama work with the participants of Camp Courage.
Alabama State Representative Marcel Black (D) from Tuscumbia said to the children, “Thank you and welcome to the Chamber. This proves that sometimes good things do happen in this chamber it is my pleasure to represent an area where the birth of Helen Keller happened at Ivey Green.”
Senator Tammy Irons (D), “We are very proud of Camp Courage and Ivey Green which is in my district.” “As Helen Keller said it is better to walk with your friends in the dark than to walk in the light alone.”
Rep. Lynn Greer (R) said, “Again I am very appreciative of the work that has been put in to make this happen.”
Sen. Roger Bedford (D) said, “Governor, thank you for being here. This is a great way to have a public private partnership that will make a difference.” Bedford thanked Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow and his wife, Martha. Bedford said that Helen Keller is a treasure for North Alabama and the Shoals.
Rep. Johnny Mack Brown (D) thanked everyone being for there, including Governor Bentley. Rep. Morrow said to Governor Bentley, “I said when is the Helen Keller statue going to be placed in Ivey Green instead of gathering dust in Montgomery? You made that happen and I thank you.”
The play ‘Miracle Worker’ has been performed for 54 years at Ivey Green in Tuscumbia. The play recreates the events in the life of Helen Keller (who was both deaf and blind) and her teacher Ann Sullivan. Two costumed actresses performed a scene from the play for the children and the other event participants.
Camp Courage participant Cassidy Jean performed ‘Amazing Grace’ for the Governor and other participants and was awarded the Helen Keller scholar award.
Rep. Greg Burdine thanked Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow for his work in establishing Camp Courage.
Sam Pierce representing the American Optometric Association said that Camp Courage is funded by the Association’s Foundation “Optometry Cares.” Pierce said that normally, “60% of a child’s learning comes visually so a child who can’t see faces a lot of challenges.” “Camp Courage has an impact across the state around the country and one day around the world.”
Dr. Halsey Professor of Special Education at University of North Alabama said, “Not only is the program worthwhile but it is a tremendous learning opportunity for our students.”
The President of the University of North Alabama, Dr. Bill Cale said, “Because of this program I have done a little work myself trying to learn about students such as these.” “Those that are born with full sight and hearing are the one who label these children and place the label disabilities on them.”
Several state legislators were there to escort the children from their districts to the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives and applaud the many students who won awards. Participants included Rep. David Standridge, Sen. Tammy Irons, Sen. Roger Bedford, Rep. Marcel Black, Rep. Greg Burdine, Rep. Dickie Drake, and many more.