Letters 17.3

Helen Keller

I was quite interested to see your article “The Truth about Helen Keller,” by Ruth Shagoury Hubbard [Fall 2002 issue]. It is true that many books for children tend to sanitize their portrayal of Helen Keller’s life.

Your readers might be interested in another source of information about Helen Keller’s views: a book of quotations from Helen Keller’s books, speeches, and personal writings (many never published before), entitled To Love This Life: Quotations by Helen Keller, published by AFB Press of the American Foundation for the Blind, the organization for which Helen Keller worked for over 40 years. As editor of this volume, I consciously tried to emphasize all facets of her life, including her activism, her concern about social justice, and her efforts to leave the world a better place than she found it. The book contains Helen Keller’s observations on war and peace, women in society, education, and changing the world, among other topics, and includes comments on poverty, racism, apartheid, Native Americans, and nuclear weapons.

Far from portraying her as passive or retiring, the book shows her spirit in one of my favorite quotations: “Humility and resignation are virtues I don’t particularly admire.” Another way of looking at Helen Keller is as the first disability rights activist.

Another interesting (but out-of-print) source is a collection of her writings and speeches entitled Helen Keller: Her Socialist Years that Phillip Foner published in 1967.

Although AFB already has a great deal of information about Helen Keller on both our regular websites (www.afb.org/helenkeller.asp) and our children’s site (www.afb.org/braillebug), we are about to embark on construction of an online Helen Keller museum. (Current postings include copies of her letters and photographs of both Helen and her artifacts.)

Thank you for your own activism and for the work you do in the service of all our children.

Ellen Bilofsky
American Foundation for the Blind Press

Abstinence-Only Education

Your Winter 2002/03 article on sex education did a terrific job highlighting the problems inherent in abstinence-only curricula. The list of resources for comprehensive sexuality education, however, missed an important ally for teachers: health education centers. Health education centers, such as Children’s Health Education Center in Milwaukee, use innovative and engaging methods to teach sex education (as well as an array of other health education programs). On-staff health educators work closely with teachers to enhance and support school-mandated areas of study through program development and in-service opportunities. Annually, the 35 health education centers around the U.S. provide programs to more than two million students. Visit www.nahec.org for more information and to locate a center near you.

Thank you for your in-depth coverage of an issue that is vital to the health and well-being of our young people.

Theresa Reagan
Executive Director Children’s Health Education Center

Letters to the Editor

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