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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

A Touch of Understanding Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Disabilities, Disabled Persons Rights, Education, Health, Primary & Elementary Schools, Secondary & High Schools

Mission: A Touch of Understanding''s mission is to encourage acceptance and respect for all individuals. Our educational programs are designed to increase understanding of differences, thereby minimizing discrimination and social isolation suffered by children and adults who are perceived as different for any reason, but especially those with disabilties.

Target demographics: students and adults

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 6000 students

Geographic areas served: the Sacramento area

Programs: disability awareness workshops. A Touch of Understanding provides approximately 100 presentations each school year to students in the Greater Sacramento, California area. Each student participates in the two-part program. In one part the students handle braces and artificial limbs and write in Braille, using a slate and stylus.  They use wheelchairs and white mobility canes. They complete tasks using a mirror and headphones to understand the challenges of learning disabilities and autism. The second part includes volunteer speakers who share their experiences and insight with the students. These two parts complement one another by giving students experience with the assistive devices used by people with disabilities as well as the opportunity to meet individuals who uses these tools each day.

Community Stories

55 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

Joyce B.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Amazing organization teaching inclusion and acceptance!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Dave40

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.