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.
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 have had the blessing of working with Leslie, Jackie, Susie and a whole list of part-time workers and volunteers for several years now. I was amazed at the quality of their program and the significant impact it has on the lives of those touched by it when I first experienced the in-school workshop, and I continue to be amazed each time I see the light of understanding and respect dawn in the eyes of the children participating in this character-building disability-awareness program. The Youth F.O.R.C.E. (Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment), ATOU's youth/adult partnership, has grown from 10 committed youth to over 200 members in just two years under my very eyes. This explosive growth attests to the power of the program, which brings youth with and without disabilities together to discover common interests, create friendships, build character and increase mutual understanding. The third face of the ATOU program, the annual AccessToCare Fair brings together nearly 100 vendors of disability aids, products and information to serve over 1000 members of the community. What an amazing group!
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.