Kentucky nonprofit brings lessons of 9/11 virtually to kids

Kentucky nonprofit brings lessons of 9/11 to elementary students virtually, and for free

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By Josh Bazan

A Kentucky nonprofit’s mission is teaching the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001, to a generation of children born long after the tragic terrorist attack happened.

Louisville-based Global Game Changers offers free in-person and virtual education programs for elementary students ages 5-10 centered on the heroes of 9/11.

Founder Jan Helson said she hopes the lessons make sure kids not only remember 9/11 but are also inspired to give back to their communities.

“We want them to know these amazing first responders, what they did, and help to understand that and hopefully be inspired to serve themselves as a result,” Helson said. “We teach kids using an equation: my talent + my heart = my superpower.” The educational programs include interactive role-playing games, a virtual museum, age-appropriate lessons and a service project.

911 Lessons Book
Courtesy Global Game Changers This book is part of the free lesson plans offered to elementary students by Kentucky-based nonprofit Global Game Changers. The organization said it hopes this and other tools help children “learn about the events of 9/11, honor first responders and rise in service.”

Brendan Graves, an elementary school teacher in Louisville, helped consult with Global Game Changers on the lesson plans.

“It builds self-reliance and it lets them know that they have an opportunity to contribute to their community as well,” Graves said.

The nonprofit has a three-year grant to bring the 9/11 lessons to classrooms. This year, it was planning on offering a touring, in-person experience, but COVID-19 caused them to shift to an all-virtual format. In 2021 the group plans to offer year-round lessons leading up to the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

For more information on the education program, go to for these and other resources:

  • Role-Playing Experiences: Interactive modules that let students experience 9/11 through the eyes of first responders.
  • Interactive Gallery: A virtual museum including news clips, artifacts from the day, and other engaging content for children to browse based on their interests.
  • Service Project: Ideas on how students can honor the real-life superheroes of 9/11 through their own service projects, focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Lessons/Support: Lessons that teachers and parents can complete with their students, as well as guides about how to talk to kids about 9/11, and other resources.