After volunteering at ATOU for the past few years and last year going to one the schools workshop I saw how important their work shops are. I just wish they could go to every class at every school. The kids get so much out of this program and leave with a real understanding that we all are the same and why they deserve to be better to one another.
Testimony from Ali Goff:
"ATOU is a wonderful local charity that helps students with compassion and understanding of people with disabilities. They are hard-working and very prudent with their resources. They partner with other businesses and schools to bring their wonderful programs to thousands of children each year." - Ali Goff, donor
I spent 30 years working with adults with disabilities and had recently retired when I came across A Touch of Understanding. After years of working in a couple different careers, I found myself asking…”What do I want to do now? What could I do that would provide a sense of purpose while making a difference in the lives of others?” There was still the burning desire to use my work and life experiences in a manner that would be a value add with any organization I might team up with.
Enter ATOU… As I prepared for my interview with Leslie I reviewed the ATOU website and read all the testimonies of teachers, volunteers, staff and students that had participated in one of more of the ATOU programs. Over and over you could sense the genuine passion that everyone had about A Touch of Understanding and how the program(s) had changed and/or impacted their lives. The more I read about ATOU’s mission to encourage the acceptance and respect for all individuals I knew this was an organization I could get behind and make a contribution.
Today I am so grateful to be part of this wonderful organization that makes a difference in the lives of children every day, with and without disabilities. The transformation that occurs is priceless and has the potential to be life altering. It is an honor and blessing to part of something larger than ourselves. There is no greater gift than to help others. I am proud and humbled to be a part of ATOU.
I learned about ATOU about 10 years ago through a Roseville Chamber of Commerce presentation. I was immediately intrigued with the mission and started asking friends with school aged children about the school programs. To a person, I was told how the ATOU workshop in their child's school was often noted as the most memorable day in their child's school year. I began following the organization and eventually attended many fund raisers and the Spirit of Inclusion workshop to learn firsthand about the people, their passion, and the programs. After 20 plus years, ATOU is a remarkable part of our community. The seeds of empathy and understanding planted with their workshop attendees leave life long lessons. We are a better community for it.
I was introduced to ATOU through a referral to help with their succession plan. I did attend a few events. I participated in a dark lunch training and also helped host a table at the annual fundraising dark dinner. I went to a classroom presentation at a school where I participated in the exercises with the kids. I was even asked to play Drive Time They have all be excellent experiences and showed me why and how successful the ATOU program has been and will continue to be. The staff and volunteers are very competent and professional, passionate and extremely caring. They truly do work as a team with the best interest of the kids and any adult audience they see top of mind. The program is fantastic and always so needed in the community. Especially now! If you are looking for a great organization to get involved in to support there are many ways to help here just ask how?
My named is Michael Wilson and I have been involved with a Touch of Understanding (ATOU) since 1997 and I am privileged to continue to serve on the board. I met Leslie DeDora and her dad, Ed Ennis (our founders) when they made a presentation to my Rotary Club and Leslie invited me to a Workshop. After attending the workshop I was hooked and never looked back! ATOU provides a message of empathy, acceptance and mutual respect - qualities that resonate now more than ever.
Both the school workshops and the adult presentation (Spirit of Inclusion) provide a 2-part program. One part of the program provides the students with a chance to actually walk a mile in someone else's shoes. The students are introduced to the various tools that enable a person with a disability to function in daily life, including maneuvering a wheelchair and using white canes while blindfolded, as well as trying their hand at writing in Braille and experiencing what it is like to have autism, to name a few of the exercises. In the second part of the program the students get to meet our disabled volunteers who provide the students an overview of what is like to live their life with their particular disability. This is followed by a question and answer session with the students. This question and answer session often exposes the most poignant part of the program as no question is off-limits to the students and the atmosphere is open to a free exchange of ideas without the fear of embarrassment! In fact, this is where the program becomes real to the students, especially those of the younger ages, as their questions are open an honest and the answers provided by our volunteers serve as life-long messages to the students.
The value of ATOU is to instill the message of empathy at a young age in our younger students and to provide a heartfelt and compassionate message of empathy to our older students in a positive and respectful manner.
As ATOU has now served over 100,000 students since incorporation I have had a chance to witness first-hand the life altering message ATOU provides to our students and I have also witnessed the profound positive impact that it has made for our volunteers as well. Offshoots of our program include the Youth Force which provides an opportunity for disabled and able-bodied children to meet each other at various functions (Christmas and Halloween parties, dances, etc.) and make life-long friends, as well as our Youth Force Club in several area High Schools; the mom's chat group which allows moms of disabled children a forum and resource; and our Friends of ATOU, who are a group of dedicated volunteers who work together to help raise funds to continue this amazing mission.
If you are seeking a non-profit that continues to make an incredible, positive impact in our society, look no further! We are always on the lookout for compassionate volunteers and donors who are seeking to make our world a better place!
I wish I could add another star! I've supported ATOU for more than 10 years and believe very strongly in their mission. I've attended several school workshops and witnessed first-hand the transformation in the children who participate--from unawareness, intolerance, or out-right bullying of those with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities to understanding, acceptance, and support. It's truly amazing to see!
Being a part of showing school children the benefits of being nice, acceptance and tolerance is truly a joy. The best part is that A Touch of Understanding doesn't "tell" them how important it is to respect all people, even those who are different or who have disabilities, but rather "shows" them, so that they draw this conclusion on their own.
Dubbed a disability awareness workshop, the assembly that we bring to elementary school campuses is more than that. Yes, we certainly give them some fun tools to have them truly experience what it may feel like to be disabled, but after the fun is had, they leave with a real understanding of why all people deserve to be better understood. Their minds are wide open to learning this.
At the end of the 3-hour workshop, all of us who worked that day know that we touched the spirits of these young children. You see it in their faces. What better feeling?
I have been a volunteer for ATOU for over five years, mainly for fundraising. I've attended workshops and truly see what a difference ATOU makes at the schools with the students and staff. They truly show young and old what it is like to walk in "special needs" shoes but then bring it around that no matter who you are we should be kind and loving to all people. I see students that are nicer and kinder to students because of this experience. ATOU is a very special non profit organization. The reason I assist with fundraising is this pays for half the schools' cost for the workshops. ATOU's goal is that all schools see this workshop, making a difference in students and adults lives! I would love for all students and people to be a part of these workshops - it'll make a difference in your lives. Thank you ATOU for all you do for our community!
Looking for a place where you can feel extremely comfortable volunteering? Looking to participate in the growth and well being of our kids? Well let me tell you "A Touch Of Understanding" is the place. I have been with them for a little more than 5 years now. My journey started however over 15 years ago. When I came back to ATOU my purpose was to help and support with whatever I could do. I never in my life thought I would walk away being blessed beyond imagination. The organization in my books ranks #1. They are a beautiful loving family of staff and volunteers who take you in.
Everyone I suggest your involvement. You have the wonderful privilege of hanging with all kinds of characters. Most with a disability. It to these folks I now turn my attention to. They are beautiful, loving, kind and you will learn a lot from them. Yes you will grow in ways you didnt think you would.
The program that ATOU takes to the schools is another beyond words experience. Their goal and purpose is to teach ALL students about disability awareness, kindness and the stopping of bullying. The kids interact with the teachers, experiencing writing their name in braille, learn to properly work a wheelchair and so much more. They come away with information and an experience they will not soon forget. In fact some of the kids if memory serves me right come to ATOU to help.
I cannot express in words what ATOU and all of it members means to mean. The only words I have is that they are my "Joy Juice". Hope to see you there someday.
They have always said that Disney is the happiest place on earth - well that is until you volunteer with ATOU. You will shortly find that ATOU is the happiest place on earth. It is one big family, friends - awesome hardworking loving staff and volunteers. The kids, the kids they just bring you so much love, they make you smile and so much more. I am truly blessed by the ATOU family. It is my home, it is my "Joy Juice", it brings me much happiness.
ATOU is a great organization that fosters understanding and awareness of disabilities and differences among students. To understand the disability is to understand the person. I support ATOU every way I can because I believe this is something that kids need to be aware of and make them better citizens going into adulthood.
The value of A Touch of Understanding through the eyes of a district superintendent
I was a public school teacher for sixteen years and then spent another twenty years as an administrator in positions ranging from assistant principal to superintendent. In all of those years, the best program I ever brought into a school where I served was A Touch of Understanding.
Helping students learn to treat each other with respect and to avoid being bullies was a goal from day one when I started teaching. As I moved into administrative roles, I often had responsibility for trying to bring in programs or support to counter bullying and make all students feel safe at school. Most of the programs in the first four districts where I worked had only minimal short-term impact.
Then I came to The Eureka Union School District and discovered A Touch of Understanding. Over my ten years in the district, and a dozen years on the ATOU Board, I look forward every year to watching that program change the lives of students with and without disabilities and show their teachers how to be more effective in the classroom and on the school grounds. The impact lasted long after the annual appearance of ATOU, and now that the program has reached over 100,000 students across Northern California in twenty-five years, they’re discovering that students who were lucky enough to participate in the program in elementary school are still talking about it in high school and some young adults are excited to see their own kids experience the program while others have gone into helping professions partially as a result of the impact of ATOU when they were young.
Bob Schultz, Adjunct faculty at Brandman University, past Superintendent of The Eureka Union School District
I had the pleasure of attending one on the workshops that ATOU presented in a school in Roseville a few weeks ago and it was fascinating how engaged the kids were with the speakers and all of the activities. When I first learned about the work that ATOU does, I immediate felt a heart connection with it, but to witness was truly special. Keep it up ATOU!
I would recommend ATOU to any and every school. This program does an outstanding job of giving students a unique experience by having individuals with disabilities share their stories, educating students, and also letting students experience for a brief time what it is
like to have some of those disabilities.
When I was a principal, I was lucky enough to come to an elementary school that already had ATOU come out every year for our 3rd-grade students. ATOU changes students’ awareness and respect for others. I loved watching our students listen to stories from the volunteers. You can see them learning and changing their attitudes right in front of your eyes.
I now work at the District level and love that so many of our schools bring ATOU to their campus. I also have two children who have gone through the program. They have both talked about how much it changed their view and how much they enjoyed participating in the different stations and hearing from volunteers. What is amazing to me is that my oldest participated over 3 years ago and could still tell me almost everything from that day. It just shows that ATOU is a program that has a lasting impact on students.
ATOU is the absolute best. I was very lucky to be invited to one of their assemblies that they put on for one of the local K-5th schools in the Roseville area. It only took about 2 seconds for me to fall in love with this organization. They awareness that they teach should be a class that have to take in school. The demonstrations that they make you do are not only team building but makes you really understand what it could be like to have a disability. The Q & A session that they have is the most real thing I have ever seen. So much honestly that it makes you want to keep asking more questions but never feeling awkward when asking. The speakers are honest, funny, and so open that it’s never uncomfortable. This organization needs to be recognized for all they do and the staff are some of the hardest workers i have seen that never stop smiling. The staff truly does love what they do and it's infectious. If you have not had a chance to see or be part of one of their workshops I highly recommended.
I became acquainted with ATOU over 16 years ago when Leslie DeDora and her father, Ed Ennis, made a presentation to our newly formed foundation at PASCO Scientific, where I happened to work and serve as foundation chair. I have had some personal experiences with children having physical and/or developmental disabilities. What I heard from Leslie and Ed really touched my heart. Their program not only addressed the issues of those with disabilities but also issues non-disabled kids have in interacting with those different from them. The message transcends disabilities and levels the field for all kids to acknowledge with compassion those deemed "different" because, in fact, we all have differences. Over the years the program has grown and prospered on its own mission values because the message is universal and is transmitted with credible clarity and loving insight. ATOU is a special place and a special advocate for universal compassion and respect at a time when such attributes are sorely needed in a critical world.
ATOU covers an area of need that most people don't realize exists. Having some special needs children myself, I see the difference in their treatment because of the message delivered by ATOU. Instead of going straight to teasing, children have asked questions and sought to understand. My children have then had the opportunity to grow their confidence and have friends they otherwise might not have had. What a blessing to give to a child!
As a young business professional, I was on the search for the right nonprofit to be affiliated with and find ways to help where needed. Well, I received so much more with A Touch of Understanding. Not only are the volunteers, staff, and donors wonderful, the impact ATOU makes is amazing. Think of it this way...have you ever been mad about something in your life, and then realize that someone else has it worst? Often times, when you look at the person who has it worst, they are still smiling. It's all perspective, and the right perspective ignites kindness and love. ATOU provides perspective for our youth, so they grow up displaying kindness and love. We all know that this can plant a seed for many positives in our community...starting with perspective. ATOU does a terrific job teaching students about this mission, making this world, our city, and our home a better place to live.
Want to know how a person with autism feels when they are trying to learn? If so, I highly encourage you to attend one of ATOU's workshops. The hands on stations made such a huge impact on me. One example is where you sit at a table with headphones on, a piece of paper with a race track outline in front of you, and a mirror staged to look at, while trying to trace the track on the paper backwards with a pen. All the while different noises are popping in your ears, sirens, dogs, glass breaking. I cannot tell you how frustrating it was....and this is what people with autism experience everyday! I had no idea! I'm so glad that ATOU is educating students about different disabilities their classmates (and people in general) might be experiencing. I love this non-profit.
ATOU provides a great opportunity for children and adults throughout our region to learn about various disabilities, gain insight, empathy, and passion about helping all people be their best selves. Their work significantly increases compassion and reduces bullying and discrimination. Their work is making a difference for acceptance in school and later in the community.
My first exposure to ATOU was as a donor because I love what they do. I then attended a workshop and appreciated everything they do even more. I have 2 small granddaughters that are growing up in a world where acceptance and inclusion can become the norm, not the exception. Watching the mind-shift of students during a workshop was amazing. I know they go home and share what they learned with their family members when the school day ends. As adults we oftentimes forget the learning lessons of the past and that children can remind us and teach us with the things they are learning. Opening our hearts, removing the barriers brought on by fear because we don't understand...these are all the things ATOU shares with our younger generation. May we all embrace the things ATOU shares to make our world a better, more loving place for us all to thrive in. If you have the opportunity to attend one of their workshops...do it...it will be a life altering experience for you.
This organization puts on an incredible educational hands-on program in schools. It teaches children compassion and empathy and also allows them to ask questions. I believe this encourages children to be more understanding and inclusive to others that they might not have understood without this program. This program is the epitome of what it is to walk in someone else's shoes. I only wish they had this program when I attended school.
A Touch of Understanding (ATOU) changes lives for the better every day. Reaching 10,000 third through twelfth graders each year with their immersive disability awareness workshop, they alter the culture on school campuses, creating an environment where children with disabilities are respected and included. ATOU's Youth F.O.R.C.E. (Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment) provides inclusive, accessible fun and character building activities for youth with or without disabilities. For some children with disabilities, it is the first time in their life that they feel included and welcome. This is truly a 5 star organization!
ATOU is a terrific organization with compassionate, positive leaders and volunteers making a profound difference in the lives of children with and without disabilities. The in-school workshop awakens an awareness in students of the challenges presented by disabilities, and teaches them to respect and befriend classmates with disabilities, rather than bully them. The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E., an inclusive and empowering youth-led organization, creates a safe and supportive environment for youth with and without disabilities to learn leadership skills, exercise their strengths, and create friendships. Together, these two programs are changing lives and our community for the better, every day.
I supported a client of mine who volunteered once a week with A Touch of Understanding as a speaker for their workshops. This was always my volunteer's, as well as mine, favorite engagement for the week. As a speaker, my client was able to tell her story and talk to the children about her disability, as well as share all that she has accomplished in life. My client's message was always powerful and would break down any barriers that the children may have had concerning her disability. The children connected with her and friendships were always made. This was not only empowering for the children but for my client as well. I am in love with this organization and the message they are helping to spread in our communities - "Building Empathy and Igniting Respect."
A Touch Of Understanding is an incredibly empowering organization! Attending an ATOU workshop was an invaluable educational experience for me personally, and I hope as many people as possible have an opportunity to attend an ATOU workshop at somepoint in their life.
I'm so thankful for the dedicated community of staff and inspiring volunteers who all help make A Touch Of Understanding the impactful organization that it is today.
The organization, the mission and the people have changed my life in ways I cannot put into words. It is an honor to serve as a volunteer board member along side some of the best human beings I will ever meet. - Stanford H.
I had the privilege to attend an ATOU event at the Excelsior Elementary School in Roseville and I found it to be an amazing experience. ATOU exposes these children to the challenges of being disabled and thereby encourages compassion and understanding. I believe this to be of integral importance to our society to help bridge the gap between those with and those without disabilities. Wonderful program!
In 2002, I was a pediatric physical therapist who had spent the better part of the past decade working with young children with developmental disabilities, helping them to achieve maximal strength and physical function. I was also a young mother, and that year I gave birth to my second child, who suffered a perinatal stroke and was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy. At that time, I realized that everything I thought I knew about disability would not be enough to provide him with the things that I most hoped he would have in life. What I most wanted was for him to live in a kinder world, and to be surrounded by people who loved and valued him, no matter the path his development followed.
When I discovered A Touch of Understanding and learned about their work a few years later, I was brought back to those early days when all I wished for was a world that would value my child and all people with different abilities. What I wished for is EXACTLY what ATOU is working to create! One child, one family, one school and one community at a time, in a way that is gentle and respectful, they teach everyone lucky enough to attend a workshop that all people are mostly the same, with the same feelings, hopes and dreams. Through their school workshops they demystify disability for students at a time in their development when they are learning who they are and how they will interact with those around them. In a world that can seem increasingly noisy and disagreeable, ATOU plants the seeds of empathy, respect and kindness in the youngest members of our community.
Today, I continue to be thankful to work as a pediatric PT, and with a team of dedicated and passionate doctors, nurses and therapists I work to strengthen and heal the bodies of children with disabilities. I am equally thankful however for the work of ATOU, and for my children's opportunity to participate in ATOU's Youth Force program. Together their programs are bettering the world that children with disabilities live in, whether we're able to "fix" their bodies or not.
Thank you ATOU for your tireless work to create a young generation with great compassion and understanding for all people, who will go on to create kind and inclusive communities to the benefit of all.
Amazing experience to participate in the ATOU program at the Roseville elementary school. The intrigue, questions and discussion from the students were great to hear on how everyone can be understanding of each other. I learned a lot from participating in the workshop and listening to the guest speakers.
Thank you in many ways. For sharing information about ATOU and the impact the organization has on children, youth and adults around the community. For allowing me to see ATOU in action and interact with the students, volunteers and staff. The experience was amazing and I look forward to attending again when the new school year starts up.
I appreciate the opportunity to be involved and help make a difference such as ATOU makes a difference in so many lives. The message about being a buddy and not a bully is great to hear especially in today’s society where it is so common for people to judge others based on their appearances, actions and voice. ATOU has a positive impact on so many lives and the mission to education and empower children to be understanding of others.
Thank you for what your organization does to provide disability awareness to understand the challenges associated with disabilities and to accept and respect all individuals.
ATOU has such a great impact in the community. Their staff and volunteers are committed to their mission and truly make a big difference to the students, teachers, and future leaders of this area. I am happy to have supported ATOU with financial support so that they can continue their mission.
What an amazing learning experience ATOU afforded our 3rd graders! The students were actively and enthusiastically engaged all morning in both the personal stories and the hands on learning activities. I am amazed by the meaningful dialogue between my students as they reflected upon their day. This was definitely a memory making, impactful moment that for many will transcend into long term action throughout their lives.
Review from Guidestar
I have had the privilege of having my fourth grade students participate in A Touch of Understanding for the last four years. What a wonderful program! My students definitely learn how children with a disability feel and become more compassionate and caring. I happen to have a student with autism and it has really opened all students' eyes to the obstacles dealt with on a daily basis. They are more involved and truly respectful of others after they experience the activities A Touch of Understanding has to offer. Thank you for making this possible!
Review from Guidestar
ATOU has been impacting the third grade students at Stoneridge Elementary School for the last several years. Students look forward to this amazing 3rd grade event. They truly learn what it is like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. We appreciate how organized this workshop is how the leaders work with the children.
We can't wait until next year!
Review from Guidestar
In the last 2 and a half years that I have been involved with A Touch of Understanding, I have had the pleasure of attending in-school workshops, and watching lives change before my very eyes. While at workshops, I have heard students say things such as "this is the best day of the whole year", "I love learning about all of these tools the people use", and some students often feel comfortable enough to share something they may struggle with. That sense of de-isolation that allows them to share, knowing they aren't alone in their challenge, is one of the greatest gifts the workshop provides. At one workshop one little girl shared something she has been struggling with, and after hearing peers say that they have a similar struggle, her shoulders relaxed, and she said "finally, I'm not alone." What a powerful realization for a young child to have. I have loved watching students learn empowerment, and empathy, kindness and compassion, regardless of the things that make us seem different for any reason. I will continue being a donor to ATOU for that very reason.
I have known about and been a volunteer with this program for 15 years serving as a board member for several years as well as school workshop volunteer and contributor. ATOU does an outstanding job of showing people the value of each and every one of us, what it is like to have extra challenges and the courage to meet them, and a sincere respect for each of us. I urge you to check out their web site: touchofunderstanding.org to learn more about them.
I have been volunteering with 'A Touch of Understanding' (ATOU) since 2015. ATOU's primary focus is on teaching children about various disabilities. Through 'hands-on' learning activities, and Volunteer Speakers - who share their stories of living with a disability- I see a child's understanding and empathy for others grow. It is truly an amazing, and much needed, organization!
I thoroughly enjoy my experience with ATOU! The school workshops work! The kids experience what it may feel like to have a disability. They truly gain an understanding which in turn breaks down barriers. Friends are made and the culture in the school's changes. Go to an ATOU workshop as a guest and see for yourself. Good Job ATOU!
A fun informative hands on learning experience that opens eyes and hearts to appreciate we are all more the same than different regardless of our challenges in life.
I have been involved with this organization for the past 8 years. We change lives when we go into schools. To watch the kids learn about all different types of disabilities and to be able to watch the light bulb come on is very rewarding
My name is Chris and I have been involved as a volunteer speaker and workshop assistant and enjoy seeing all the kids go through this program and think it is very important for all kids to go through this program to learn how to include all disabilities in their everyday lifes!
After volunteering with ATOU in high school, I was the summer 2017 intern for A Touch of Understanding. Overall, I had a great internship experience. I am very happy that I spent this summer at ATOU because I pushed myself with my marketing capabilities, and I learned the daily functions of a nonprofit. By far, this has been my favorite internship, and it encourages me to continue down the path of working in a marketing position at a nonprofit once I graduate from college. ATOU is very inclusive, thoughtful, and caring. A Touch of Understanding lives their mission every day, and I am proud to have spent my summer with such an incredible organization.
We have had ATOU at Strawberry Point every year now for quite a while. They make a huge impact on all of my fourth grade students and staff alike. The experience is life changing for all of us. Leslie Thornton, Principal
Excellent disabilities awareness organization! I am a congenital disabled person that is a powerchair user. Was bullied/teased through my public school career. I am also a parent of a congenital disabled adult child. Wish there was such an organization when I was in public school!
I have been disabled my whole life. Being stared at and teased that entire time. I am a volunteer with ATOU. When we go to schools with our program we actually and literally change lives. If I can stop one child from being teased, stared at or bullied-that makes my day and changes lives, and we change lives at EVERY school where we take ATOU. Do we reach every child who participates, nope....but changing one life is awesome, changing more than that is incredible....
Review from Guidestar
I have been a volunteer with ATOU for about a year and a half. I was referred to ATOU by a trusted friend. It took me about 10 minutes to realize I belonged in ATOU. I have been disabled my whole life and was teased when I was young and judged my whole life. If I can stop one person from being teased or judged it makes my day. At EVERY school I go to, we stop kids from being teased or bullied. It makes my day. The ATOU family is the most caring, non-judgemental group anywhere.
We would like to thank A Touch of Understanding for coming to our school and making their presentation. It was well received, very interactive, and our students can't stop talking about it. We have had several parent emails letting us know that their children really enjoyed it and understand both empathy and acceptance. The program is very professional, well timed, and engaging. We liked the fact that the program encourages "buddies" not "bullies"!
Review from Guidestar
I have had the privilege of experiencing ATOU's disability-awareness workshop at my school for many years. The students love to hear from the presenters and how they have adapted to their various disabilities. The presenters share stories and encourage the students to ask questions. The students learn empathy and how important it is to not tease. The hands-on workshop is a component of the program visit. They get to practice what it could feel like to have a disability. The children remember and talk about this special assembly which shows what a great impact it can make at a young age. They talk about how they would want to stick up for someone if they saw him/her being teased. I highly recommend ATOU!
A Touch Of Understanding is an amazing program that touches the lives of students and adults. I have had the privilege of taking part in their assemblies at three different elementary schools. The number of students they have had a positive impacted with is countless. Many of the students say this is the best experience they have in school. The teachers report that the positive changes that come with the education ATOU brings makes a dramatic difference in the way students treat each other. I have also had the honor of attending several of their events outside of the school setting. The energy that the volunteers bring to this program is amazing!
ATOU was one of the most powerful student assemblies in which our school has ever participated. It allowed the children to experience some of the daily difficulties many handicapped people go through on a daily basis. With the chance to "walk in someone else's shoes", students gained valuable perspective on how some struggle with simple, daily tasks that we often take for granted. The discussions we had as a class afterwards showed an obvious sense of empathy and sympathy from everyone. We pledged to be buddies, not bullies to the less fortunate!
There is a reason that Crestmont Elementary School participates annually in A Touch of Understandings' lecture and hands-on experience. IT CHANGES LIVES! Every year our 4th graders hear the speakers and see their disabilities. They physically experience in a small fashion what hardships people with disabilities have to go through. The lectures allow the students to hear the challenges that the speakers go through on a daily basis. Following this, is the hands-on portion of the presentation. Here, they learn how to use a wheelchair, how to navigate with a walking stick, write in braille, and experience an autistic world. As teachers, we can tell that this program is having an affect on the students' lives by hearing the comments they make to each other and their parents as they describe what they have experienced that day.
ATOU has changed my life! I developed a neurological disorder in my 30s and had to give up my career. ATOU has given me a new purpose in my life. I love talking and working with the school children. It is very rewarding to share my experience living with a disability. My main message to the kids is "I'm just like you" and they understand. Leslie DeDora and her team of staff and volunteers are so dedicated!! They work tirelessly to ensure that ALL people are treated with respect and kindness.
A Touch of Understanding has changed my life. This program cannot be described in a small area such as this. To see the way children respond to the volunteers and really understand why they should be including children of all abilities in their lives is truly amazing. But the school programs are just the beginning. The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. (Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment) has grown into an unbelievable program for young people... and young at heart. They work together to bring "fun" to everyone that attends their events! The other program ATOU provides to the community is the AccessToCare Fair. This is a free community event where they provide an opportunity to see the services and products that are available to people with disabilities.. that includes senior citizens, Veterans, just about anything you can imagine. A Touch of Understanding can change your life too... just come to a program and witness the experience. I challenge you to come back without having a completely different attitude about children and people in general... and if you really want to make a difference in the world, write them a check or how about spending a little time volunteering?
A Touch of Understanding is an unusual type of organization that you almost need to see to believe their results. They are able to change childrens attitudes about how to perceive people in just three hours. They teach acceptance of all differences which has certainly addressed the bullying issue. This program should be in every school throughout the Nation... it wouldn't hurt adults to go through the program as well!
I became involved with ATOU when the previous Volunteer Coordinator came in to my college classroom with a young woman named Hope who spoke about the program and the Youth F.O.R.C.E. I became a volunteer as soon as I could after their presentation. As I continued to volunteer with ATOU I came to the conclusion that ATOU is more than just an organization that advocates for people with disabilities and it is more than a provider of a disability-awareness workshop but that it is a family of people who all share the same passion of ushering a new generation of children into the future with an understanding that we are all the same on the inside and that we are equal and we should treat everyone with love, kindness, and respect.
Fifteen years ago I was new to the Eureka Union School District and was told that I had to go see a program for disability awareness at one of our schools. I saw the program, now called A Touch of Understanding, in action and saw the immediate positive impact it had on not only students with disabilities, but all students and adults on campus. Over 50,000 students later, it has only grown stronger and when I retired it was the only non-profit that I said yes to when it was time to get involved. ATOU changes lives.
I first saw this organization in action in 1998 at a school in a district where I served as the Assistant Superintendent. The impact on students was immediate and longterm as I watched students befriend students with disabilities and back away from fear and bullying. After watching the program in action for ten years, including four when I served as Superintendent, I have watched the program grow and expand. When I retired, many groups asked me to join their boards, but this was the group that hit me in the heart, so it was the only one I joined. Now I'm working to get the program into as many schools as possible as ATOU reaches beyond the 50,000 students we will have reached as of this year.
Review from Guidestar
ATOU has been a part of my family's life since 2006 when my son and I became volunteers. This is an extraordinary disability awareness group that helps breach the gap between disabled students and adults and their able-bodied peers. These peers get a chance to experience some of the day to day issues disabled people face, through a hands-on demonstration and participation in the use of wheelchairs, canes, braille, prosthetic devices and other disability tools. It is also a real eye-opener for the children to listen to the disabled speakers. The safe environment of the school setting allows for very open dialogue among all. Everyone learns so much from the ATOU experience.
I have been associated with them through my foundation at work (PASCO in Roseville) and personally through volunteer events for the past 10 years or so. They are a very caring non-profit agency. Not only do they affect the lives of the children to whom they present – but they change the lives of the volunteers (some challenged and some not) by adding to their sense of worth and appreciating their talents. ATOU volunteers make a big difference!! And now – they have added a Youth Force – where they are changing the lives of young people by giving them the chance to have fun and do normal things with their peers. ATOU is an absolutely wonderful organization!
Touch of Understanding is an amazing program where students of all ages gets to learn a little bit about others who may have different abilities. It is such an inspirational program that advocates inclusion for people of all abilities. Since volunteering with the program, it has motivated me to continue to volunteer with them. The students are always enthused about the program. A life changing program that must continue to exist for furure generations.
Through his involvement with A Touch of Understanding I have seen my sons confidence grow in leaps and bounds. This is largely due to his connecting with the caring volunteers and staff. They have great activities including ski trips and leadership development for special needs individuals. We are so grateful to be involved.
A Touch of Understanding is breaking barriers between social classes; those with disabilities and those without. A Touch of Understanding enter our schools with the tools needed to give young people a more intimate impression of what dealing with a disadvantage might be like. This leaves the audience a greater understanding of the similarities between all of us verses the differences. They succeed in bringing about a greater connection to all social classes rather then a potential divide.
ATOU is a very amazing and touching program. As a volunteer, I get to see what they do, and the effect it has on the people they touch. I hope this program continues to reach as many schools as possible. Thank you for all you do ATOU!
Review from Guidestar
ATOU is an amazing program that has touched many students in our school district. Through their creative stations, videos and presenters, students have been able to get a feel and understanding of what it is like to be someone with a disability. Through the program, students have also learned the correct way to approach and treat others with a disability. ATOU is a program like no other, and I hope that it continues to be successful and grow throughout our region and beyond.
Review from Guidestar
I am an educator who works with kids ages Kindergarten to High School. I am so impressed with the approach ATOU has to help breakdown the barriers/walls between students with/without Special Needs. The Speakers are precious, the activities are powerful (hands-on!), and the love/compassion they do it all with is priceless! Keep up the great stuff ATOU!!
Review from Guidestar
Such a wonderful and inviting environment it was a pleasure to work with everyone at ATOU. The work they do is priceless and a real service to the children of our community!
Review from Guidestar
I came to ATOU after they did a presentation at my university. After watching the video and hearing what they were all about I decided to offer my services. I've been a volunteer/friend of ATOU for about 2 years now and I have never had a complaint about their excellent services or the awesome people who work there. I've been fortunate enough to work along side them as we organized a community carnival for the children in the Granite Bay area and and work for them serving the community in many other events. The message that ATOU puts out is one of acceptance and achievement and I firmly believe that they are making a tremendous difference for people who have disabilities, as well as the public in general. Two thumbs WAY up!
Review from Guidestar