Tips on talking about the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with your kids from Global Game Changers

By Jan Helson, co-founder of Global Game Changers

Twenty years ago on September 11, 2001, tragedy struck every home in America.

For many adults, we remember the rallying cry of “never forget,” but for children, that phrase may ring hollow, especially for those born after 9/11.

In advance of the 20th anniversary, Global Game Changers (GGC), a Kentucky nonprofit and student empowerment program, was awarded a federal grant to develop “THE 9/11 LESSON: Celebrating Real Life Superheroes!” to help students better understand what happened that fateful day and how we can grow from it.

The 9/11 Lesson is an interactive education resource with age-appropriate lessons and tools free for educators and parents to use when teaching about 9/11 and empowering the next generation of heroes to make a difference in their communities.

Tips to talk to kids about 9/11

Start with what kids can understand

In his “Best Practices for Teaching 9/11” video, Louisville teacher Brandon Graves, who was a student in Washington D.C. when 9/11 occurred, shares how he discusses 9/11 with his students in a way that informs and empowers them to know we can overcome tragedy.

Introduce, explore, connect

There are different aspects of 9/11 to talk about depending on a student’s age. That’s why GGC offers tailored lesson plans by grade ranging from cultural differences around the world to book reading lessons. No matter the lesson, students are introduced to the events and heroes of 9/11 and able to connect it back to their own lives.

Use real-life experiences to tell the September 11 story

Who better to hear from than the very people who lived it? With the 9/11 Lesson, students can help Officer Frank clear the streets to get an ambulance to the hospital in the Virtual Heroes Experience or peer through the Virtual Museum Gallery to learn more about what happened throughout the country. From firefighters on the scene in New York City to flight attendants preparing for takeoff, students get to hear true stories from real people as first-hand accounts.

Talk through the day with animation and pictures

Animated videos can make learning more enjoyable for younger ages and teach the larger lessons that came out of that fateful day. Funded by AmeriCorps, GGC developed a documentary as part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance, uniting students together by service. You can watch the full documentary online.

Students can also view a series of original book readings with Saved by the Bell’s reboot series star, Haskiri Velazquez, and follow her around as she explores New York City museums and memorials.

Empower students through service

Its important to show students how we can all move forward in a positive way and service projects are a great way to do that. All the GGC lesson plans are founded in service and connecting students to their community.

Things like creating a flag to present to a first responder and community superhero or planting a tree in memoriam of the original Survivor Tree are two projects available online. An exhaustive list of service projects is housed on the 9/11 Lesson website.

For more information about how to get involved GGC, visit or contact Jan Helson at

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