Portrait of the Whole Person: Biographies and Paintings, 2015

Bertschi School and Disability Rights Washington


Portrait of the Whole Person: Paintings and Biographies

April 28 – May 14, 2015

painting of Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin by Beazie

Bertschi School, in partnership with Disability Rights Washington, presents the 2015 Portrait of the Whole Person: Paintings and Biographies, to celebrate disability history and culture. Through the art show, we hope to heighten awareness of the disability rights movement and culture within the broader community.

Disability Rights Washington, a private non-profit organization protecting the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State, developed the concept and curriculum, taught disability history and culture to the students, and facilitated the art. Bertschi Fourth Grade teachers, Robin Cheyney and Caitlin Bunnell, and Dustin Groshong, assistant teacher, guided the students in researching and creating biographies about individuals with disabilities, both historic and current. Maria Grade, the Bertschi School art teacher, instructed each child on portraiture and facilitated the presentation of the show.

The Portrait of the Whole Person project provides an integrated approach to teaching youth to: perceive disability as a reflection of societal views of differences; treat people with disabilities with respect and dignity; and understand how disability rights fit into the broader civil rights movement. Additionally, this project contains an anti-bullying and self-confidence component.

Washington recognizes the importance of educating youth about disability history through its enactment of a state law establishing October as Disability History Awareness Month. This Act requires each public school to conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities. By educating youth, we can ameliorate negative stereotypes and perceptions that can easily lead to exclusion, bullying, low-self esteem, and discrimination. Perceptions of disability should include concepts of dignity, liberty, autonomy, and strength instead of fear, pity, weakness and paternalism or maternalism.

The art show is on display from April 28 to May 14, 2015 at:

Seattle Public Library – Montlake Branch
241 24th Avenue East
Seattle, WA  98112
phone: 206-684-4720

For more information about this project, please contact Disability Rights Washington at 206-324-1521 ext. 206.

Bertschi School is an independent elementary school committed to providing children a balanced education that nurtures their intellect, imagination and character. Bertschi School’s mission is to educate children to become compassionate, confident, and creative learners in a global community.


painting of Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi by Seth

The lights shone down on the podium at the 1992 Olympics. She felt the stress of her dreams being crushed by the cold hands of competition. Kristi Yamaguchi was born with “clubfoot” and here she was in the Olympics. The tensions rose as the medals were being presented. Bronze down, silver down, now there was just gold left. She had been waiting for this moment since she was a kid. “Kristi Yamaguchi!” She had won the gold medal!

Kristine Tsuya “Kristi” Yamaguchi was born on July 12, 1971 with two clubfeet. She wore casts to treat the condition. When she was six years old, she started skating for physical therapy after seeing her sister on the ice. Her disability was partly related to her success because without it, she would not have begun skating for physical therapy.

Kristi Yamaguchi made the world a better place by founding a foundation called, “Always Dream.” It realizes that some kids cannot follow their dreams because they do not have the money. Society can do many things to help people with disabilities, but the most important thing they can do is see the person first, not the disability.

Kristi Yamaguchi inspires me because even though she has clubfeet, she found a way to get around it. My thinking has changed after researching Kristi Yamaguchi, because I used to think about her disability, but now I know she is a lot more than that.


Painting of Itzhak PerlmanItzhak Perlman, The Violinist, by Ari

Itzhak Perlman is a persevering violinist, who despite his disability has achieved amazing things. Itzhak is one of the best violinists in the world but he never brags about it.

Itzhak suffers from a disease called Polio, which has a crippling effect. Itzhak got Polio when he was 4 years old. It took Itzhak a whole year to recover in the hospital. I bet it would be very boring lying in a bed doing nothing while doctors are walking all around you, looking at diagrams and blood test results. After the recovery, Itzhak was able to walk with the help of leg braces and crutches. I think I wouldn’t be able to last even one day with crutches before straining the muscles in my arms. The Polio permanently paralyzed Itzhaks legs. The Polio gets in Itzhaks way but he never lets the pain take over. Scientists have created shots to prevent Polio but by the time those were invented, it was to late for a shot to heal Itzhak. How does it feel to know that there is a cure to disease you have but it’s already too late?

Itzhak is the only violinist in history to play sitting down on a chair. Itzhak is a wonderful violinist and everyone loves his rich music. Its so amazing that someone can be so good at music! Itzhak Perlman is celebrated as one of the greatest violinists in the whole 20th century. Itzhak received his first violin from his father who had bought it from a second hand shop for about $6. Itzhak loved the present and took to learning violin. When Itzhak grew older, he married Toby Lynn Friedlander who he met in 1964 at a summer camp concert. Yitzhak now has five children and is 69 years old.

Itzhak has many hobbies and all of them have no difference from the hobbies of a person without a disability. Itzhak has a passion for cooking. Itzhak also is a fan of baseball and roots for the Yankees and the Knicks. He also loves to be athletic so he does swimming and table tennis.

In conclusion, I would say that Itzhak Perlman inspires me in his wonderful music skills and his perseverance. Itzhak acts like the Polio doesn’t bother him and I respect that. I wonder if Itzhak Perlman has more pain in his legs now that he is 69? Is Itzhak happy to be one of the greatest violinists in the world?


Painting of Frida KahloFrida Kahlo by Alice

Crash! The bus and the trolley car collided and Frida’s life was changed in only moments. In a body cast for three whole months, most of her paintings were a reflection of her pain. Little did she know, the polio she had as a child and the near fatal accident on the bus would leave Frida mentally and physically scarred for the rest of her life.

Frida was diagnosed with polio at age six, making her left leg thinner than her right leg. She hid this by wearing long colorful skirts. At age eighteen Frida was on a bus when a trolley car came whipping into the bus. Frida was in a full body cast for three months, for her body was severely damaged.

When Frida was in bed for that long three months, she painted herself because, as she once said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” I think Frida will inspire anyone who sees her artwork. Disabilities are only weird, different, or even bad if people make people who have disabilities feel different or if people single them out.

Frida Kahlo inspires me because I am an artist. I find it amazing that instead of starting to paint before her accident, when she was feeling good and doing well, she started to paint when she was probably in the worst state of her life.


painting of Marlee MatlinMarlee Matlin by Beazie

Did you know that Marlee Matlin is an award-winning actress? At the age of 21, she won the Academy Award for the movie “Children of the Lesser God”. She might be deaf but that does not stop her from being an amazing actress.

Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin pursues her career of being a successful actress at the age of 49. She is deaf and fluent in sign language! She has four children and a husband. She stars in movies: Against Her Will, The Carrie Buck Story, Dead Silence, Freak City and Where The Truth Lies.

I think Marlee Matlin made the world a better place by using the virtues of perseverance, compassion, enthusiasm and more! One example of her showing perseverance was when she worked so hard that she won an award. Most people would give up. She inspires me because her deafness does not stop her from being a positive actress!

In conclusion she inspires me because she kept working hard to keep being an actress. One question I still have is that I wonder how many movies does she star in? I think it would be really hard to act without being able to hear the director or her fellow actors.


Painting of Timothy Mathew Howard by Ben

I can feel the squish of the green grass bellow my white Tiempo’s (soccer cleats). I am inside the tunnel of the huge Sao Paulo stadium in Brazil. Our captain Clint Dempsey starts yelling and pumping us up. Jürgen Kinsman our coach speaks to each player individually we would soon be playing Belgium… It’s the same routine every game I sit on the cold metal bench in the locker room getting my cleats on always-right foot first then left. Then shin guards, soccer socks and finally I slip either the USA men’s national team or Everton jersey over my head for the game. Fingers wrapped in the same pattern cleats on the same way; I am Tim Howard the goalkeeper.
Tim Howard was born with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Tourette’s syndrome. Those lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions) and not always being able to control your words. He hated school and say he would have to go to the bathroom or nurse, faking almost all of it. Howards love of sports started when he was about six years old. He started with softball and then soccer. At the beginning of his soccer-playing career he was a big forward with a powerful shot but his coach thought he was an excellent goalie so he usually alternated positions. When Howard was 10 his symptoms began to appear, such as randomly touching furniture and belongings around the house, picking up rocks, sticks, and dirt outside. He had lots of tics, throat clears, rolling eyes and moving around. When Howard was 11 his worst symptom occurred, before Howard could talk to someone he had to tap them on the shoulder or touch their hand, overall he had to touch someone before he could talk to them. Although those symptoms in some ways affected him they gave him abilities in sports that most kids don’t have. He could read the wingers eyes before he crossed the ball and predict what the attacking player would do. Also when he was goalie he would ignore everything except the ball.

Now Tim Howard is a great goalkeeper who plays for Everton in England and the US men’s national team. He is now thirty-six years old and was born March 6th, 1979. His parent’s are Esther Howard and Mathew Howard they named him Timothy Mathew Howard. During the world cup 2015 Tim made 16 saves in the US loss to Belgium. Howard has a spouse named Laura Cianciola Lienbenbrood. His salary is around 2.6 million USD (US dollars) a year. He started his career with the North Jersey Imperials and then moved to the MetroStars. There he attracted the attention of Manchester United who signed him in 2003. However United soon later signed Edwin Van Der Star (another goalkeeper) and Tim went on loan to Everton and eventually signed with them for real in 2007.

Tim Howard shows me that you never have to give up even when you are losing like when USA was playing Belgium and US was loosing and Tim still made 16 saves to keep his team in it. He has taught me to overcome challenges when something is hard. He also inspires me to play soccer when I grow up and play like him.


painting of Daniel KishDaniel Kish by Ben R.

Daniel can’t remember when he was not clicking. He lost one of his eyes when he was seven months old, and he lost his other eye when he was 13 months old. At two he learned to use echolocation.

He became the first person to teach them self how to use echolocation. He attended the University of California Riverside, and earned two masters degrees; one in developmental Psychology, one in special education. Daniel decided to teach blind children to see with echolocation.

This is why echolocation works. One is that when you make a noise the noise bounces off the wall and go’s to the nearest ear about a millisecond before it reaches the other wall. That is just enough time for the brain to recognize which side it is coming from. This allows humans to use their ears to make a 3-D image of their surroundings.

I really liked studying Daniel Kish, because it taught me that humans could use echolocation. Having a disability didn’t stop Daniel Kish from achieving great things and helping other people. And that is what he will be remembered for.


painting of Chuck CloseChuck Close by Cal

Chuck Close is special in many different ways. He is noted for a highly inventive technique used to paint the human face. His full name is Charles Thomas Close. Chuck Close is known for his many famous masterpieces of art.

Charles Thomas Close was born on July 5, 1940 in Monroe, Washington and is currently age 74. His disability is that he is paralyzed from the neck below but he stuck to art even though he has a disability. He can still move his limbs and he straps a paintbrush to his arm.

I think Chuck Close has made the world a better place by letting people know that even though you may have a disability you can still do what you love. One way we can help people like Chuck Close is by being accepting and kind to them.

Chuck Close has inspired me in many ways. One of the ways is that he sticks to things like he is paralyzed but he still paints and he stuck to it. I think that it is great that he solved a problem for having that disability if you like to paint.


Painting of Henri MatisseHenri Matisse by Carmel

Snip snip go the scissors as Henri Matisse cuts out all kinds of squiggly shapes and colors. I am going to teach you everything I know about Henri Matisse. Matisse is one of the most famous French artists of all time known for his use of colors. Read on to find out more about the wonderful Matisse.

Matisse was born in 1869. He was not born with his disability but in 1941 he was diagnosed with cancer and had to have surgery. After that he started to have to use a wheelchair. Some of Matisse’s art requires pieces of colored paper but he can’t get up to paint the paper so some of his helpers do it for him.

Matisse may have to use a wheelchair but that does not mean he can’t be as good as any artist. I think that the thing that makes Matisse so unique is that he makes his art like no other artist. You should not think of Matisse as a person with a disability you should think of him as an artist. I think a way that would make being in a wheelchair a lot easier is that we should have a lot more ramps in Seattle.

Matisse inspires me because even though he cannot stand he is still one of the best artists. When I see a person in a wheelchair I don’t think of what their weaknesses are I think of their strengths and that they could be amazing at something. I think that we should not judge people on how they look or act but by the contents of their heart.


painting of Terry FoxTerry Fox by Cayce

Have you ever heard about a person named Terry Fox? Terry Fox tried to run across Canada to raise awareness for cancer. And he had cancer himself. He was born July 28, 1958 and died on June 28, 1981.

Terry Fox liked basketball, rugby, cross country and soccer even though he wasn’t that gifted in any of them. Determination was something he was good at and that’s how he got onto his high school basketball team and the Junior varsity team at Simon Fraser University. Though when he was 18 he got osteogenic sarcoma witch is a bone cancer. He got a fake leg to help him walk after the doctors had to amputate his right leg. They cut off his leg 15 centimeters above his knee. After he lost his leg he started playing on Rick Hansens wheel chair basketball team.

When Terry Fox saw other people that had cancer he wanted to do something. He had read about a man named Dick Traum who had lost an arm or leg and ran a marathon in the newspaper. When Terry Fox saw the article it inspired him to run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer. He started training for it in 1979.On April 12, 1980 he started the Marathon of hope, running about a marathon a day. During his run his friend named Doug Alward drove a van behind him. While he was running he met prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Maggie Smith, Bobby Orr and Darryl Sittler. Unfortunately when his cancer got to his lungs he had to stop the Marathon of Hope in Ontario, on September 1, 1980. When he stopped he had run 5,373 kilometers and had run for 143 days. He couldn’t start running again even though he really wanted to.  He died less than a year later at the Royal Columbia Hospital. He didn’t get to finish the run but other people did it for him.

I think Terry Fox shows a lot of determination and perseverance, I would never be able to run a marathon a day across Canada. Though I might in a few years decide on doing the Terry Fox run that hundreds of people do each year. You might want to do that to.


Painting of Steve GleasonSteve Gleason by Christopher

Stephen Michael “Steve” Gleason was born on March 19, 1977. His parents had no idea that he would become a NFL football player that was later diagnosed with ALS. If you want to learn more about Steve keep reading!

Steve Gleason was born 278 miles from Seattle in Spokane, Washington on March 19, 1977. He attended Gonzaga Preparatory School for high school in Spokane. At Gonzaga Prep he won consecutive defensive MVP awards as a Linebacker in the Greater Spokane League. He also played baseball for Gonzaga Prep and broke the Greater Spokane League record for home runs. For college he went to the college of Washington State University or WSU. At WSU Steve was a starting linebacker on the team that went to the Rose Bowl. When Steve graduated at WSU the Indianapolis Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent. Before the 2000 NFL season started he was released by the Colts and then signed by the New Orleans Saints. He played there for the rest of his career. He had 65 tackles in his 8-year career. He had an average of 8 tackles per season. However his most memorable play was when he blocked Michael Koenen’s punt in 2008. That game was the first in the Saints stadium (the Superdome) since Hurricane Katrina. Steve married Michel Varisco on May 16, 2008.

Steve Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011. I think it is so sad that a formal NFL football player now has ALS. He retired from the NFL because of his marriage. Steve is an inspiration to thousands of people with ALS. This quote just pretty much sums up his mindset; “No White Flags.” The quote means that he does Not want people to treat him any differently than a normal person. In 2011 Steve went through a series of tests at the end of the tests Steve learned that he tested positively for ALS. I think it is incredibly sad that a former NFL football player now has a crippling disease.

I think Steve Gleason changed the world because he was a former NFL football player and then he got unlucky and he got ALS. However people don’t treat him like he is some kind of alien or something horrible like that, they treat him like he is a normal person and he is a normal person. He really inspires me because he has kept fighting through ALS. I think that must take a lot of courage to just keep fighting through a disease that has almost ruined his life. I still think even though most people don’t treat Steve any differently because of his disease some people still do. I think we, as society really need to make sure everyone with a disability is not being treated the way they are because of their disability. They should be treated the way they are and with kindness.

In conclusion, Steve really inspires me because he keeps persevering through ALS even if it pushes him back even farther. My view on Steve has changed so much from when I started this report to when I’m ending it.


Robert WadlowRobert Wadlow by Clare

Many things are nine feet tall like ceilings, and Robert Wadlow. Robert Wadlow was the tallest man in the history of the world standing at over 8 feet 11 inches and weighed 493 pounds at death. He would have to bend down in this classroom because he would be too tall.

His disability was hypertrophy, which makes one of the organs, or glands, in your body grow bigger than it should. In Roberts’s case his pituitary gland grew bigger. The pituitary gland is a gland inside the brain and it controls how tall you grow. Robert went to the circus but refused to be part of the freak show. His nickname was the gentle giant. He was born normally seized and weighed the average baby weight.  Within twelve months he weighed 44lbs. At age five he was 5 feet 6 inches and at nine he was 6 feet 2 inches.

Robert Wadlow was a leader in the way that he would refuse to be known as a freak. Showmen begged his parents to show him in the circus as a sideshow freak. When he was in the circus he had rules about when and how long he would be in the circus tent.

To conclude this, he was a leader because he was not afraid of his differences and what people though of him. It has changed how I look at people with disabilities because they can change the world.


Painting of Freddie Roach Frederick Roach by Cole B.

Freddie Roach is an amazing person. Freddie Roach is now a boxing coach, and was a boxing champion at a younger age. He has overcome many challenges despite the fact he is shaky. Everyone assumes that his disease came from his beatings. He has now coached 24 almost 25 world titleholders including the best boxer ever named Manny Pacquiao. He was a wonderful kind person.

Freddie Roach has Parkinsons Disease, which is a disease that makes you shake uncontrollably. Despite this he has done many amazing things. He used to box, but after showing early probability of having Parkinsons his father made him stop boxing. He continued his love for boxing and has become a coach, being one of the best coaches today. He has changed people’s boxing lives, making them so much better than they used to be. Although he wanted to keep boxing his disease stopped him but he is now loving coaching. He was able to box all the way to high school then had to stop. He then retired in 1986.

I think that Freddie has changed the world by inspiring others. He has inspired me not to give up on something even if something happens to you. Just because others look at you differently you shouldn’t think that you are any different. I think that others should not look at him differently even though he is just like any other person. He is a kind person and should be treated like you or me.

Freddie inspires me to persevere. Now I feel like even if something bad happens to me that changes my life I won’t give up. He has changed me and I will be kind and look at disabled people like everyone else. He has changed my life.


Painting of Jim AbbottJim Abbott by Cole D.

Do you like baseball? Than you will love Jim Abbott! He is a baseball player, and believe it or not he doesn’t have a right hand! You maybe think he’s not a good baseball player, but you would think wrong. You should read this if you want to learn some facts about Jim Abbott. On September 9, 1967 Jim Abbott was born without a right hand, in Flint Michigan. Jim never saw himself as handicapped. His parents tried to not to make a big deal out of him not having a right hand, and encouraged him to do as he pleased and learn new skills. Children teased him and called him names like “Crab” and “Captain Hook”, and pretending that his right arm looked like a foot. He didn’t let that bother him and he even played quarterback on his high school football team.

In college, the coaches were so impressed with him that they had him pitch the opening game. Jim was invited to play in international competition with other amateur players in the 1987 Pan-American games. While playing in collage, Jim continued to receive tons of media attention and press.

He was a pitcher for the Angels and the Yankees, which were the only teams he played for in his professional carrier. He pitched with his left hand and placed the glove on his right arm. After he threw the ball he would quickly move the glove from his right hand to his left hand. In 1988, he helped win the gold medal against Japan at the Seoul Olympics. He helped win 18 games for the Angeles.

Today Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker for kids with disabilities. He has donated $100,000 to Amigos de Los Niño’s, an organization that aids groups that care for children in California. Jim Abbott has taught kids all around the world that they can do and be whatever they want.

I think Jim Abbott was amazing for wanting to be a baseball player and holding onto that dream. So I think anyone can be what ever they want to be.


Painting of BeethovenBeethoven by Daisy

He had just finished conducting a piece, and he was sure everyone else enjoyed it. He wondered if he was getting applause. Suddenly, he felt cold hands on his shoulders and was whirled around by an orchestra member. BOOM! It hit him. Even though he couldn’t hear, he could see the standing ovation, and he could feel the joy in the room.

Ludwig van Beethoven was not born deaf. It most likely happened because of lead poisoning. Being deaf made it hard for him to compose and play the piano, but he kept on creating music.

Beethoven has made the world a better place because he pushed through his obstacles and made music we still enjoy today. We can make a mental or physical condition less of a disability by seeing the person and their accomplishments, not their disability.

Beethoven inspires me because in spite of being deaf he persevered and didn’t give up. So, next time you hear a piece by Beethoven, think of how hard it must have been to write that song without hearing what it sounded like.


Painting of Ed RobertsEdward Verne Roberts by Elaina

He woke up and rang the bell for his helper to switch him out of his iron lung into his breathing tube. This is a routine that Ed Roberts must perform every morning. This did not dampen his spirit.

Ed Roberts contracted polio, a medical disease that affects the nerves of the spine and makes it so a person cannot move particular muscles permanently, at age 14. That was two years before the vaccine to cure the disease was created. He was told that he would be nothing more than a vegetable. At first he decided that he wanted to die and ate nothing. But then, about a week later he decided that he wanted to live, so he and the doctors guided him back to health. At age 20, Ed Roberts applied to Berkeley College. About four months later he got in! He was very happy and felt like he had just ate a rainbow. At that time people with disabilities did not get into colleges. That is why he is known to be a leader.

Ed Roberts is known to be a leader in the disability rights act. Because of him colleges have to allow people with disabilities to be accepted into colleges. I think without Ed Roberts the world would be a different place. He was a leader that no one forgot and no one will forget.


Painting of Lauren PotterLauren Potter: The Inspiration, by Elodie

Have you ever seen the TV show Glee? Well there is an actress with Down syndrome on that show and her name is Becky and she is a cheerleader on Glee. The actress’s real name is Lauren Potter. Lauren is special because she is working with important organizations to help other kids that get bullied. She is an inspiration for kids that have problems.

Lauren Potter was born with Down Syndrome, which means she has an extra chromosome. 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born each year in the United States. The people who cast Glee were looking for an actress with Down Syndrome. And Lauren beat thirteen other actresses for the part. One of Lauren Potter’s quotes is, “I hope that when people with Down’s see me, they will be inspired to do more than they think they can.”

She also supports “the spread the word to end the word” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to stop people from using the “R-word”. She raised awareness for a lipstick name that was offensive. Also she is involved with the international best buddies program, which gets friends for people with disabilities. She also worked with Special Olympics and advises the White House on issues related to people with disabilities and also got to meet Barack Obama.

In conclusion, Lauren Potter is an inspiration for many people, and I learned it doesn’t matter what you look like. It matters what is inside of you. So believe in yourself and never give up.


Painting of Judi ChamberlinJudi Chamberlin – A Psychiatric Survivor, by Freya

Judi Chamberlin was a civil rights hero from a movement you might never have even heard of. Many people think of the voting rights, movement, women’s suffrage, or the civil rights movement for African-American rights. She took her inspiration from other movements to create something she called “Mad Pride”. This was a movement made for the rights and dignity for people with mental illness.

Judi was born with the name Judi Ross on October 30th, 1944 in Brooklyn, New York. She was the only child of Harold and Shirley Jaffe Ross. Judi died of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease in her home in Arlington, Massachusetts on January 16th, 2010. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease is a disease in the lungs, frequently caused by smoking.

Surprisingly, Judi was only 21 years old when she suffered from deep depression. She was involuntarily confined into a mental health hospital in the 1960’s, which sent her into a lifelong leadership role in a movement to guarantee human rights to psychiatric patients. After quite a few admissions she was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

Uniquely, Judi was an American activist, leader, public speaker, and educator in the psychiatric survivors movement. Judi wrote the book On Our Own: Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Heath System, a foundational text in the Mad Pride Movement.

In conclusion, Judi inspires because she made me see clearly that everyone has similarities and differences, strengths and abilities. However, we are all equal, no one is greater and no one is less. I hope you enjoyed reading about Judi as much as I did.


Painting of Stevie WonderStevie Wonder by Gretchen

Stevie Wonder sung his song, “Isn’t she lovely” to his beautiful baby girl. Even though he couldn’t see, he still describes his lovely daughter with amazing clarity in his heartfelt song.

Stevie Wonder’s disability is blindness. He became blind shortly after birth when he was put in an incubator and received too much oxygen. Stevie Wonder is a very famous musician. He also does charity work. All of the proceeds from his song, “Shelter in the Rain” went to Stevie’s charity organization, The Wonder Foundation. It helps with hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In think that is really nice.

He inspires me because he helps with charity but also sings. I like that because I love to sing and that means in addition to singing, I can still help others. I used to think that Stevie Wonder was just some singer, but now I know he is way more than that.


Painting of Alicia AlonsoAlicia Alonso: The Prima Ballerina, by Gigi

Alicia Alonso, ever heard of that name? Does it ring a bell? She went from dancing with open eyes to performing with almost no sight. Alicia is an inspiration because no matter what she kept on dancing.

Alicia’s problem was that she had worsening vision problems and went to get surgery. She had to lie straight on her back for 3 months. Now, in my opinion, that must be hard for a dancer. But later on she found out that the surgery didn’t go 100% successfully, if you know what I mean. Then she did a second surgery, and if you don’t like gory stuff then go to the next paragraph. Alicia had a detached retina and the surgeons had to completely take the eye out, stick in antibiotics, and put back in the eye. Wow that is so gory. I know you won’t believe this, but she had to lie on her back for a year, yes a year. Her new husband Fernando sat by her each day. Sigh, how romantic. She ended up disobeying the doc’s orders and started going down to the dance studio every week to build up her skill level. Then a giant storm hit! A window broke, wait another gory moment, a bunch of shards of glass hit her face.  Surprisingly none of them damaged her eyes.  The doctor thought if a hundred shards of glass aren’t going to damage her eye then she can go back to dancing.

Alicia Alonso had a long career as a dancer and started a ballet company, The Alicia Alonso Dance company. No kidding.  She had help. Alicia never did a dance alone.  Now this part is cool. If Alicia went too far in to the yellow spot light she was too close to the orchestra pit. She had her partners lead her around and no one knew she couldn’t see.  Now this fact is hilarious. People think she is sexier than girls half her age and she was 54! Here is a quote from Alicia Alonso her self. “A dancer should learn from all the arts. Go to the museums and look at the paintings. See how they balance things. Everything you do in the arts enriches you.”

In conclusion, Alicia is a great dancer. Want to know why? She was hit with million shards of glass, went through 3 or 4 surgeries, and kept on dancing.  That’s what makes a good dancer. She didn’t let being half blind stop her, and it shouldn’t stop you. With any disability keep your dreams and hopes alive.


Painting of Magic JohnsonMagic Johnson by Hale

With 15 seconds left in the forth-period, Magic steals the ball, running down the court he shoots for the three pointer, the buzzer goes off, and the ball goes right though the hoop. Magic has won the game for the Lakers.

Magic Johnson played for the Lakers and was first drafted in the 1979 NBA draft. Magic is 6’9” tall and weighs 215 pounds. He accomplished many things in his life even though he has dyslexia and contract HIV at the age of 32.

Magic was born on August 14, 1959. He played many positions in the NBA. He was Point Guard, Shooting Guard, and Power Forward. Magic’s College was Michigan State University. He got the, Most Valuable Player Award, in his rookie season. He won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Magic retired in 1991 after he announced that he had HIV.

Magic Johnson made this world a better place by raising the awareness about HIV. We could try to reduce the stigma around people with HIV and dyslexia by not assuming anything about people who have these and other disabilities.

Magic Johnson inspires me to play basketball even though I am short.


Franklin D. RooseveltFranklin D. Roosevelt by Isaac

Splish, splash! That was the sound of the rain slapping down on his summerhouse on Cambello Island, Canada. He was freezing cold and having one of his many chills that dark and stormy night. When he tried to move his left leg to get up to take a bath to warm himself, he realized he couldn’t move his leg. This surprised him! He woke Eleanor Roosevelt, his wife. They called the doctor and told the kids that he was fine, but they would need to wait to see their father. When the doctor arrived he was diagnosed with a mere cold. The doctor was devastatingly wrong. He had Polio!

In 1921 when FDR was 39, he got polio. He couldn’t move from the waist down. Even though he couldn’t stand on his own he did amazing things. He saved the American economy and saved the world from the reign of terror during Hitler’s rise and fall from power.

FDR was very interesting. He was the longest serving president. He was elected four times. Franklin was the first president to ride a plane and the only one to need crutches, braces, and wheelchairs to move around. Out of 10,000 pictures of him there is only one of FDR in a wheelchair.

He had many obstacles in his life including polio. He is not known for his polio. He is known for being the leader of the United States through times of sorrow and times of triumph. He led us through the great depression.

I think that Franklin Roosevelt was one of the best presidents the United States has ever had. He was certainly one of the most interesting. I think he was the smartest leader of a country in the history of the world, and that’s how I will remember him.


Painting of Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali by Ian

Whack! Ken Nortan punches Muhammad Ali in the face and as all the clapping and yelling started to dial down there was a loud crunch! Muhammad’s jaw was broken! And with that punch Ken Nortan had won the fight! Muhammad Ali’s boxing career might have been on the downswing after that, but his spirit was still soaring. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, but that didn’t stop him from fighting for social justice.

Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942. He wasn’t born Muhammad Ali, his real name is Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. Ali started boxing at the age 12 when his bike was stolen. He reported the theft to a police officer named, Joe Martin, who gave him boxing lessons at a local youth center. Then Joe started featuring Muhammad on a TV show called, “Tomorrow’s Champions”. This was the beginning of his long career in boxing. At the age of 18 he won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. In 1975 Muhammad Ali won the title of “Sportsman of the year” by Sports Illustrated Magazine. His last fight was in 1981, three years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome.

Parkinson’s disease creates mental disorders that affect speech, mood, behavior and thought. I don’t know if Muhammad Ali has all of these disorders, but I know it affected his speech, and he’s in a wheelchair. Learning about Muhammad Ali made me think more about the people in the world who have disabilities. I have learned that people with disabilities can still accomplish great things and that they’re not different from people who don’t have disabilities.


Painting of Tom CruiseTom Cruise by Kyle

Did you know that Tom Cruise has dyslexia? I think it would be hard to be an actor when you have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a brain disorder that makes you think different from others. It is not always bad, sometimes thinking different is good.

Tom Cruise was born with dyslexia. He struggled with his disability as a child, but later learned how to deal with it. He did not learn to read until he was 22. He needed to know how to read to memorize his lines to be an actor.
Because Tom Cruise has dealt with dyslexia, he has inspired millions of people around the world. He’s famous for playing parts in lots of movies including Top Gun, Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher. Because of that, people look up to him. He is so looked up to that in Japan there is a Tom Cruise day. We can see people like Tom Cruise for their success, not by their disability.

Tom Cruise inspires me because I have dyslexia and I thought I couldn’t deal with it, but when I heard Tom Cruise has dyslexia and he is an actor and he makes movies I thought differently. He inspired me by saying “Dyslexia won’t stand in the way of one’s hopes and dreams”.


Painting of Abe LincolnThe Amazing Abe Lincoln by Mia

It was April 14, 1865 it was that horrible day of Lincoln’s assassination. He was sitting in Fords Theater attending the play, “Our Cousin America” when he was shot. It was a shame he was only 56 years old. The surprising thing was that Abe Lincoln did not die until 7:22 AM on April 15. America was now feeling as melancholy as our 16th president often did. While many people remember the tragic day of his death, not many people knew that he suffered from depression.

Abraham Lincoln had mood disorders. He was more than likely born with them. His disorder did not have to do with his success, however his success is way more awesome than his disability.

Abraham Lincoln helped with ending slavery when he made the speech called, The Gettysburg Address. That’s when he made his most famous quote “Four score and seven years ago” referring to the Declaration of Independence. I think a way to help people with mood disorders is to be kinder to people who seem depressed.

Abraham Lincoln has inspired me to speak out against injustice. My attitude has changed about people who are disabled. I realized that even people who have difficulties can change the world.


Buzz Aldrin by OliviaPainting of Buzz Aldrin

Have you ever heard of the amazing astronaut Buzz Aldrin? He was actually the second person to walk on the moon, after Neil Armstrong. I think he is very inspiring because he has a disability but he still went to the moon. Find out about his disability in the next paragraph.

Buzz’s disability is Bipolar disorder. In case you don’t know, Bipolar disorder is when you experience extreme mood swings as often as once a week, or as spaced out as a few times a year. Buzz has written several books and in them he shares the hardships of having this disorder. Buzz also thinks that he was not ready for all of the fame of being the second man on the moon, so he became depressed and got Bipolar disorder.

Buzz has made the world a better place because if he hadn’t gone to the moon we would not know as much about the moon because if there was no one there, there would be no one to see the moon in person. To make Bipolar disorder less of a disability we could just think of people with it as normal people. We can also read the books that Buzz wrote!!

Buzz Aldrin has inspired me because he was very brave to go to the moon. It is really amazing that he was the second person to walk on the moon and he is still alive!!! My thinking changed after researching Buzz because now I understand that life is not all about fame because there is a lot of pressure when you are famous. Thank you Buzz!


Painting of Natalie du ToitNatalie Du Toit by Nishka

Splish! Splash! That is the sound of Natalie Du Toit swimming the Women’s 100 meter Butterfly in the London 2012 Paralympic games. Natalie Du Toit wins the race and the crowd goes wild. She never thought she would be standing at the podium with a gold medal around her neck. She feels a tear drip down her pretty face. These happy tears are a reminder of everything she has accomplished since losing her leg in a scooter accident.

Natalie Du Toit was born on January 29, 1984 in Cape Town, South Africa. She went to the Reddam House, University of Cape Town, and Wynberge Girl’s High School for her education. On her way back from swim practice one day, she put her leg down trying to balance her scooter when a car ran over her leg and her leg split open. She had to be rushed to the emergency room and she got an x-ray. The x-ray showed that the bone had been split in half. She had to get her left leg amputated up to the knee.

Natalie Du Toit has been in the Paralympic games many times and won almost all of them. She has won two silver medals and 21 gold medals. Natalie Du Toit first competed at the age of 14. Her strokes are butterfly, backstroke, freestyle, and breaststroke. She was voted 48th in the top 100 great South Africans in 2004 by the South African Broadcasting Corporation, because of her inspiring swimming.

In conclusion I would like to say that studying Natalie Du Toit was very fun and interesting. I learned a lot about Natalie Du Toit while researching about her. She was very inspiring to me because I am a swimmer, and she inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.


Painting of Justin TimberlakeJustin Timberlake by Oliver

Whoosh. That was the sound of the curtains opening, it was time to go out and face his fans. Justin Timberlake has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but that didn’t stop him from singing, in fact it might have made him a better singer! He is a perfectionist and it might have been hard not to be perfect at singing but he persevered. He may not be completely perfect, but that’s okay. He knows he can’t be perfect at everything, so he just tries to be the best he can be.

Justin Timberlake was born on January 31, 1981 in Memphis Tennessee with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. His Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not seem to affect his jobs, singing or acting, at all. In fact it might help him persevere through tough stuff.

Justin Timberlake makes the world a better place by entertaining millions of people and working through the difficulties of his learning disability. I think that people need to realize that everyone is important. If you meet a person with a disability don’t be mean, just think of them as another human not a different species.


Painting of Ray CharlesRay Charles: An Inspiration Of Music, by Sarah

One thing that most people don’t know about Ray Charles is that he was actually not born blind! He has loved music even before he became blind. One cool fact about him is his mom made him chop wood when he was blind. Ray Charles is a very talented person! One other thing that helped him excel in music is he has won over twenty awards. I can list a few awards. He has won 17 Grammys, the Grammy lifetime award, the Achievement award, President Merit award, and the Playboy award, the last one that I will list is the Polar Music award given by the King and Queen of Sweden.

Ray Charles was actually not born blind! He had seven short years to see the beautiful world in color. But sadly, Ray had been staring at the sun continuously! And then one day he became blind. I think his disability helps with some things but not all. It may help with such things as maybe not having stage fright because you wouldn’t be able to tell how many people there are in the crowd. His mother made him do things that any other parents would make their kids do. His mother even made him chop wood!

You should not treat Ray Charles as a person with a big disability, but you should treat him just as normally as you would treat anyone else. I think, to help people who are blind, we should be more considerate of others when people are designing things, like making wider side walks, making less stairs and more ramps. Ray Charles has made a few changes for music history.

In conclusion, Ray Charles taught me that blind people can do anything! I have really enjoyed learning more about Ray Charles and I hope you learned a lot!


Painting of Bethany HamiltonBethany Hamilton by Romaine

A shark jumped, a board cracked, an arm lost. Bethany Hamilton howled with pain. The next thing Bethany knew she was on the beach, her friends carrying her to the ambulance that was waiting on the road. All of Bethany’s thoughts blurred. She felt like she was seeing through water. The figures of the ambulance rippling and blurring as they said, “Stay with us Bethany.”

Bethany Hamilton is a famous surfer that learned to surf with one arm. Bethany lost her arm when she was 13, in a vicious, female tiger shark attack. Bethany is known for how hard she worked to try and get back on her board after the attack. Bethany fell and fell off her board until she started balancing herself so she wouldn’t tumble. In less than a month Bethany was surfing again and in three months she was competing. Bethany still hopes to achieve more.

Bethany taught young kids with disabilities that they could still do whatever they want to. Bethany got bunches of letters from kids all around the world, because she inspired them. I think that even though you might be missing a body part, that doesn’t mean you, should be labeled or thought of differently than another person. I do think that society is getting better at seeing the person and not the disability because, there are a lot of horseback riding places that disabled kids can go to.

Bethany Hamilton inspired me and a lot of other kids, because she taught people that even with a disability you can still chase your dreams.


Painting of David BeckhamDavid Beckham by Sam

As he stares at the other team’s goal, he realizes the goalie is barely out of the goal. He thinks this is the perfect chance to score. He shoots the ball as hard as possible, bam! The ball soars over the goalkeeper, moves past the goal line, and the crowd goes wild. He just scored one of the longest goals in the history of soccer. His intense focus and need to have things perfect drove him once again to success. David Beckham has obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

David Beckham’s OCD makes him want everything to be perfect. His wife said, “If you open our fridge, it’s all coordinated down either side. We’ve got three fridges—food in one, salad in another and drinks in the third. In the refrigerator with drinks, everything is symmetrical. If there are three cans, he’ll throw one away because it has to be an even number.” Beckham is definitely dealing with his OCD fine, because he said, “It’s not something I worry about. I’ve accepted it. I’m just very obsessive with certain things. Everything has to be in order that’s just the way it is.” I admire the way Beckham deals with his disability and the way he uses it to perfect his game.

David Beckham is one of the most creative soccer players of all time. He entertains the world with his amazing soccer abilities and his countless new ideas and tricks.

Beckham has shown the world that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals. A way we can help people with disabilities is by not bothering them about it or making fun of them.

David Beckham is very inspiring to all soccer players and soccer fans. He also proves that there is always another idea that you can use in soccer.


Painting of Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein by Savannah

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” This is one of Albert Einstein’s most famous quotes. He was able to think outside the box in part because of his disability. He had a mild case of autism and dyslexia.

Albert Einstein had a mild version of autism and dyslexia. He was born with both, although there is controversy about if he had dyslexia. We know that he did not like school, but that he was very interested in math and science. We also know that he often had trouble remembering things like the months and how many days are in every month, even though he could solve the most complicated math problems there were. He had a different kind of mind than lots of other people did. He was able to see things from a different perspective. This caused him some trouble in school and life, but it was a very great help in math and science.

Albert Einstein invented the theory of relativity. He is considered one of the smartest people to ever live. He was able to solve problems that no one else could. People are still studying his work and Stephen Hawking, who is now considered the smartest man alive, now sits in the Einstein chair at Cambridge University.

Albert Einstein has inspired me. He has shown us that if you try hard enough you can do anything. I have dyslexia and Albert Einstein has shown me that I can do anything.


Painting of Stephen HawkingStephen Hawking by Sara

The memory will always linger in the back of his mind, the whispering and crying when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. Stephen Hawking was only 21 years old. He was given two and a half years to live. To this day he is still alive at the age of 73.

Stephen Hawking earned his bachelors in math and science at Oxford University. He also earned his masters and his PHD at Cambridge University. Stephen Hawking’s disability wasn’t the reason for his many achievements, but it didn’t affect his success either. His success had to do with his brain. It was important that he was able to stay a Cambridge.

Stephen Hawking made the world a better place by helping figure out black holes and writing books about physics. Society can change to make mental or physical conditions less of a “disability” by understanding how we can help, when we should help, and that we should see the person first not the disability.

Stephen hawking inspired me to never give up even when bad things happen. My thinking has changed after researching Stephen Hawking. I am now thinking about his accomplishments and not about his disability.


Painting of Michael PhelpsMichael Phelps by Liv

Did you that Michael Phelps is an Olympic gold medalist bringing home 22 meddles. (18 gold, 2 silver, 2 barons?) Michael Phelps completed his first Olympics at the age of 15. Michael was born June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland. He is one of the fastest Olympic swimmers. Michael Phelps might have A.D.H.D. but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves most!

Michael Phelps has A.D.H.D., which is a disability that makes it very hard to focus, and makes things hard to process. Michael Phelps was born with his disability, but it did not occur to him till he started elementary school when it got hard. A.D.H.D. makes it very hard in his swimming career. It is hard because in swimming you have to listen to the coach and not just that but then you have to say in your head these are 100’s on the 1:00. For us it might just be easy but people with A.D.H.D they don’t what to do when this thing happens.

Michael Phelps has inspired people with A.D.H.D and other disabilities that they can do any thing they want to do with there life. I think we all should not doubt people with A.D.H.D. because I bet growing up a lot doubted him in school and at swim practice. Instead of helping him they didn’t help him. My favorite quote he ever said was “you can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream the further you get.” I think Michael Phelps is a great influents to many people to follow their dreams!

In conclusion this project has inspired me to look at people with disabilities in a different way. He also has made me never give up on my goals in swimming.


Painting of Jean-Dominique BaubyJean-Dominique Bauby by Tamsin

How would you live the rest of your life almost completely paralyzed? I bet that Jean-Dominique Bauby wished he had thought about that question more. Jean-Dominique Bauby was born in Paris, France being able to move around like any other child, but at age 43 on December 8, 1995, he suffered a rare stroke to the brainstem. After 22 days in a coma, he awoke to find that he could only move his left eyelid.

Being paralyzed didn’t mean that his brain stopped working too. He was diagnosed with something called locked in syndrome. “Locked in syndrome,” occurs when your brain still works fine, but your body is paralyzed.

With his brain in order, Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote a book, but not in the way you would think. He could not write one himself, for he could not move his hands. He had to dictate it letter by letter to Claude Mendibil. But how did she do that? Jean-Dominique couldn’t move his mouth! What happened was that Claude Mendibil slowly recited the alphabet over and over again. When she got to the letter that Bauby wanted, he blinked. She then wrote down that letter. They wrote a whole book that way.

Unfortunately, Jean-Dominique Bauby died from pneumonia on March 9, 1997. That was just two days after the publication of his book, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. Now that I know more about Jean-Dominique Bauby, I understand that he is more than just, “the paralyzed guy.” He’s also the writer, author, and dreamer.


Painting of Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell by Tavis

As thousands of people gathered around Alexander, he speaks the first words into the newly invented telephone. This was one of many great accomplishments that Alexander Bell would achieve in his life. He was always inventing something even though he had a learning disability called, dyslexia.

Alexander Graham Bell was born with dyslexia on March 3, 1847. He suffered from dyslexia but he still liked to invent as much as any other inventor. He learned to work with dyslexia and invented many everyday machines like the telephone, air conditioning and the metal detector. He did not create solar panels but had the idea right before his death. He had many more inventions.

Alexander Graham Bell made this world a better place by inventing all those things. He invented the telephone and many more things that we use today. If we didn’t have them life would be difficult. We can make dyslexia and other disabilities less of a disability by seeing the person not the disability.

Alexander Graham Bell will be remembered for his many accomplishments and the amazing person he was. He has inspired me to work hard even though I’m tired or having trouble with something.


Painting of Thomas EdisonThomas Edison by Theo

ZAP! Suddenly the room went from dark to light! On that winter evening in 1879, Thomas Edison felt a brush of warm air from the blazing heat of the light bulb that was sitting directly in front of him. He hoped that after 7,000 tries he would finally complete his mission to create the most sustainable light bulb and the longest running light bulb of his time. Thomas Edison invented more than 15 things in his lifetime in spite of being almost completely deaf.

Thomas Edison is almost completely deaf. He wasn’t born with this disability, he believes that he became deaf in his teens for two reasons. The first reason is that once he had to catch a train and the train conductor “helped him out” by pulling him on the train by his ears. The second reason is that once he was conducting a science experiment on a passenger train and it caught on fire! So the same conductor pulled him very hard by his ears again. Thomas Edison’s disability is not related to his success, but it didn’t stop him from changing the world.

Thomas Edison changed the world because he created a way for light bulbs to last longer. He also created many other inventions, like the atomic telegraph and the phonograph. When people think about Thomas Edison they don’t think of his disability, they remember what he accomplished. People can change the way we treat people who are deaf like Thomas Edison by treating them like normal people every single day.

Thomas Edison inspires me because he was deaf and he accomplished so many things. Now I think differently about this person. I used to think that he was just a smart person, but now I see that he is more than that. He accomplished more than someone without a disability.


Painting of d'Elaine Johnsond’Elaine Johnson by Tovi

Paintings, paintings and more paintings! d’Elaine Johnson was an artist of over 600 paintings. People say she painted the sea itself.

d’Elaine was born blind. She was blind until she was six. Now she can see fully out of one eye. I think some ways we can help people who are blind is by giving them a brail board. This is a board that has brail writing, and is something I created in my mind. It is like a tablet but there is brail writing that pops up out of the screen allowing the person to read the website or book. Or we could make computers that talk. If someone goes on a website then the computer will read it to them.

d’Elaine loved history and myths. She got ideas for her paintings from the history and myths she read. Most of her paintings were about the myths. d’Elaine is from Edmonds, Washington. Kids made fun of her for being blind, this often made her cry and feel bad about herself. I don’t think that it was nice that kids laughed at her, it was not her fault for being blind.

She inspires me with her paintings. The paintings have so much detail that sometimes it makes me think about the details of life.


Painting of Kyle MaynardKyle Maynard by Tripp

Do you think a person with no arms or legs can drive a car? Or type 50 words per minute? Or do cross fit? Or climb mount Kilimanjaro? Well, there is a person who can, and his name is Kyle Maynard.

Kyle Maynard was born on March 24, 1986. He was born with no legs up to his knees and no arms to his elbows. The disability is called congenital amputation. Kyle Maynard’s body couldn’t develop in his mom’s belly. He motivates people by being fit and taking on physical challenges. He even made his own cross fit gym. If he can do it, so can you.

Kyle has inspired people to push themselves and to not give up. Take life “one step at a time,” and behave naturally when you see someone with a disability. When Kyle Maynard was getting off a plane two soldiers came over and told him that they were ambushed when they got out. They were so sad about how many soldiers died and that the two men wanted to do bad things. When they saw Kyle Maynard’s Book “No Excuses,” they wanted to not do bad things; they were very inspired by Kyle Maynard.

When Kyle Maynard was climbing mount Kilimanjaro he carried one of the soldiers ashes and when he got to the top of the mountain he dumped the ashes on the top right where the sign was. I thought that Kyle Maynard was nice to be carrying the ashes with him. I was very emotional when I watched one of his videos of him wrestling, doing martial arts and climbing mount Kilimanjaro.

Even with physical challenges, Kyle is able to do what he wants. He is like a normal person with a normal lifestyle. He had people who helped him and helped him believe he could it. His support system supported Kyle and to others. His supportive system is his mom, dad, sisters, high school wrestling coach and martial arts teacher. He is in the hall of fame for wrestling and martial arts he got the ESPY award winning mixed martial arts athlete (best athlete with a disability).


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Helen Keller: Miracle Child, by Zoe

How would you feel to be trapped? Trapped in world where all sound, sight and words are lost to you! This was the everyday life for one historical girl. Who was this extraordinary child? Helen Keller that’s who!

As a baby, Helen’s normal life lasted only a year. She became sick with scarlet fever at nineteen months old. Helen’s fever raged on and on, day and night! Finally when her fever came down her parents realized that she had become blind, deaf and mute. They were devastated and took her to doctors all around Tuscumbia, Alabama, their hometown.

But no one could cure her.  One day someone suggested going to a doctor named Alexander Graham Bell. He predicted that she would be able to do great things. He also told them about a lady named Annie Sullivan who might be able to help Helen. Annie was invited to come and stay with the Keller Family so that she and Helen could get closer together. When Annie got there she was astonished to discover that Helen had no manners at all. Helen’s parents had decided that she shouldn’t have to be disciplined, but Annie disagreed. Helen was rough with her baby sister Mildred, and she would walk around the dining room table and steal people’s food. When she tried to do this to Annie, Annie swatted away her hand and Helen screamed. This went on for a bit until Helen learned she couldn’t steal food. By this time Annie realized that Helen’s parents let her do whatever she wanted. Annie asked if she and Helen could move into a small cottage nearby so that she could teach her things without Helen’s parents trying to protect her.

When they first moved into the small house, Helen was grumpy and stubborn. Annie taught Helen Morse code using her fingers so that she could talk. Helen was thrilled that she could finally communicate with other people. Little did Helen know that her work with Annie would soon change her life forever!

Annie Sullivan or, Teacher as Helen called her taught Helen so much! From learning table manners to teaching her to read in Braille!

The young student loved to learn, learn, and learn some more! So Annie took her to Perkins Institute, the school Annie worked for. There, Helen ate up her lessons. She was in love there! All the kids were blind or deaf so she fit right in! One day Helen read about a blind and deaf girl who could talk! Through her life all Helen wanted was to speak with real words! So Annie took her to the Horace School for the Deaf in Boston! There, Helen began to form words. She and Teacher stayed for a while, until Helen could speak When they were confidante she could they went home. Mr. and Mrs. Keller will never forget what their little girl said to them as she stepped of the train. “Mother, I am not dumb now. Mildred, I love you! Father, I am glad to be home!” it was the first time her folks had heard her voice in ten years!

Now Helen could speak, read and write! But that wasn’t enough!

She was in her teens now and as she grew, so did her dreams! Helen wanted to go to college! Annie Sullivan did not agree. She didn’t think Helen was ready for college. But Helen didn’t give up and finally, Teacher said yes. Helen applied for Radcliffe College, and was surprised and angry to find out that Radcliffe didn’t want her! They thought that Helen would fall be hide since she couldn’t see or hear. Helen did stop trying. She wrote a letter to Radcliffe telling them that a soldier does not give up before a battle. The college admired Helen’s perseverance and gave her a place in the school! Helen studied for four years and got a college degree! All this time Annie Sullivan had stuck by Helen’s side.

The team was inseparable. Helen learned so much in her from Teacher and from all her schools! After college Helen moved on to change the world!

When her long school years ended Helen started to do great things! She did lots of speeches! She wrote multiple books, the most famous being “Story of my Life.” Which is still selling in stores. Helen traveled to 39 countries in her life. Sullivan stayed with her student for years. But as Helen grew up, so did Annie. Teacher died October 20, 1936. It was hard for Helen but a lady named Polly Thomson, who finished what Annie started, soon replaced Teacher. Helen started suffering in from stroke in 1961 and went to live in an elderly home. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968. More than 1,200 mourners come for her funeral. Helen lived a great life and will never be forgotten!

Helen Keller was a true miracle! She was also very fun to learn about! One thing I liked about Helen was that she always had a dream and didn’t give up on it! She was an incredible person and never thought she couldn’t do something! Helen gave hope to blind and deaf people all over. She made many speeches and had great quotes. Here is a very famous one. “The most beautiful things can not be touched or even seen, they must be felt by the heart!” – Helen Keller!