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.
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.
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.