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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

32 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was one of the first students to have participated in ATOU's presentations many years ago! I was a 2nd grader at the time and remember being so intrigued and interested by the presentation I watched. They opened my eyes to things I had never thought about before. Now, many years later, I have come to appreciate ATOU even more. In fact, I have become a special education teacher and wholeheartedly support their mission to spread awareness and empathy about individuals with disabilities. I am so impressed with the work ATOU does. I have volunteered for ATOU and have watched their team present to local elementary schools. They reach students in ways that are deeply meaningful. During the entire presentation, students are engaged, enthusiastic, and curious. Students absolutely love their presentations! I believe many students leave these presentations possessing a deeper understanding and compassion for people with disabilities. What makes ATOU so special is the team that runs it. Every staff member you meet is positive, kind, and generous. Their warmth is infectious and rubs off on every person they teach. I think ATOU’s mission is so important in today’s schools. With a rise in bullying and student depression, I believe it is essential to educate our students about individual differences, promote acceptance of all, and spread compassion for all people. I think ATOU does such a wonderful job doing just this. I hope all schools have the opportunity to share ATOU with their students!

Review from Guidestar

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ATOU has such an amazing program I don't even know where to begin. The first time that I went through their presentation I was blown away. The impact of the speakers and the the hands on experience is truly amazing. The kids were very receptive and I think that what ATOU offers is a chance for them to understand not only what it would be like to live with a disability, but what it's like for people to treat you differently because of a disability. I have watched the amazement on the kids faces as they begin to understand and feel what it's like. It teaches empathy and patience, as well as that it's better to ask if you are curious rather than just stare and make fun. This program is by far, one of the most valuable programs I have ever experienced or seen as at some point in all of our lives we will come across a person with a disability or illness of some kind.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an awesome program! My son was born without a right forearm and hand and was so empowered when, during 2d grade, he saw the ATOU presentation and listened to people with similar and other disabilities talk about their experiences. Last year, during 5th grade, he decided to join ATOU as a speaker to talk about his own challenges and experiences. He spoke at a couple ATOU presentations last year and this past summer. He is so proud to participate in the program, and is excited to participate during the coming school year. I, as well as my husband, mother and sister, have sat in on the ATOU presentation, and we were moved and uplifted beyond words. This is a very worthwhile program, with a group of extremely dedicated and passionate volunteers. The knowledge and understanding about differences and personal challenges that is passed on to younger folks through ATOU is invaluable.

4 Brenda

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An awesome organization. My daughter and I first saw the ATOU presentation when she was in 2nd grade and they presented at her school. She stood up that day during the discussion of orthotics and showed everyone her brace and told them how it helped her. Courtney started volunteering as a speaker with ATOU when she was in 7th grade and she's been spreading the word ever since that kids have strokes and that having a disability doesn't have to slow you down.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ATOU and What we do We present to students in schools in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado Counties. In most schools we present and have activities with regular students. Our program has two sections. Each section lasts about one hour and 15 minutes and has about 50 students. One Section consists of speakers (Usually 3-4 individuals followed by questions from the students at the end). Our presenters/speakers are individuals (sometime students) who are disabled (handicapped) in one way or a combination of ways. They try to enhance the students understanding of what they (Speakers) have obtained, even though, at times, it is a challenge. The other section consists of an introduction (about 15 minutes) to the program and what we plan to have the students do. Then the students are separated into 5 groups for the five stations: 1. White Canes. 2. Wheelchairs. 3. Braille for an exercise in writing in Braille. 4. Mirrors exercise. 5. Orthotics & Prosthetics (when I am not speaking. (I am usually at this station). At the end of our session, I walk around the table and pull up my slacks and show the Teacher and students that I am an amputee. Upto that point, they have no idea that I am. After about 10 minutes at a station, the students rotate to their next station. After everyone has completed the five stations, we have a closing. The Activities volunteers help with the stations. The speakers - Speak. Some of us do both. Charles (Chuck) P. Warren chuck@chuckandvi.org PS: I am a bi-lateral Below the Knee Amputee.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We recently had the blessing of finding and joining this wonderful group of caring and compassionate people. A Touch of Understanding's (ATOU) mission in promoting and teaching Disability Awareness is so important and we are so blessed to be a part of it. We have been welcomed with open arms, compassion and understanding. We are proud to be a part in paying this wonderful blessing forward as members of ATOU! Please check out their website at http://www.touchofunderstanding.org and support them in any way that you can.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello I don't know where to start this is a great organization. I have been volunteering since 2005. I really enjoy going to the schools and talking to the kids about my disability. I think it's a neat program we are like a family.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have seen the strong impact that this hands-on disability awareness program has on students who participate and disabled people who speak to students. All these folks come away with a better understanding of the world faced by those with disabilities. Also, students and others participating in the program learn a new respect for the many talents and abilities of people who are disabled. I have been acquainted with this organization for seven years. I am a volunteer. Be sure to review the website www.touchofunderstanding.org to learn more about this amazing group of people and the good work they do!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What I have seen A Touch of Understanding, Inc doing ever since I became aware of Leslie DeDora and her incredible, dedicated, determined, warm and welcoming staff (long ago, in my sixth grade classroom) is something that the world desperately needs. The message of compassion and understanding that this team takes directly to the classroom and the community is critical to forging a new generation that fights intolerance and prejudice with hope and empathy. But flowery words aside, these people are committed to making things happen. The discussions I've had and the projects I've worked on have all been well thought-out, practical, and designed to actually *do* things in the community. I've seen first-hand people associated with this organization overcome *incredible* odds pull through, excel, and go out to do things that are incredible by *any* standard. ATOU's message is strong and compassionate, ATOU's people brim with a quiet strength and heart, and ATOU's leadership is rock solid. These are *good* people who know what they're doing.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.