A Touch of Understanding celebrates 15 years in Granite Bay
“Respect means treating people the way you want to be treated. Everyone should be treated with respect.”
That was the message on the whiteboard in the Dry Creek School classroom where around 35 fifth-graders gathered for a disability awareness program on a recent Thursday.
They sat on the floor, listening and interacting with Leslie DeDora as she talked about understanding and accepting people who walk, talk or act differently than they do.
She held up a shoe with a leg brace attached.
“Would you be good at math if you wore this shoe?” she asked. The students responded positively.
DeDora is executive director and founder of A Touch of Understanding, a nonprofit based in Granite Bay that provides disability awareness programs for youngsters throughout the Sacramento area and in Calaveras and Mariposa counties.
DeDora just made her 5,000th school visit since she and her father started the program in 1992.A Touch of Understanding incorporated as a nonprofit in 1996 and is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a special ribbon cutting and program at Greenhills School in Granite Bay on March 23.
DeDora explained to Dry Creek students how she became aware of disabilities. She talked about her aunt who was an adult but behaved like a child. DeDora said she teased her until her mother took her aside and said her aunt had an intellectual disability.
“That used to be called mental retardation,” she said.
Years later, while working as an aide in a second grade class at Greenhills School in Granite Bay where her children attended school, DeDora saw youngsters with disabilities who were targets for teasing.
She started ATOU to help students understand their classmates who are different.
“I knew in my heart the program had to be hands on,” she said.
“We show students ways to adapt to different challenges and show them skills and tools that make it possible for someone with a disability to achieve their goals,” she said. “We don’t show disabilities in negative ways to promote pity. We promote respect.”
Walking in someone else’s shoes…
15th Anniversary Celebration
What: Roseville Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m. Includes program and light appetizers. Open to the public.
When: 4:30-7 p.m. Friday
Where: Greenhills Elementary School Multipurpose Room, 8200 Greenhills Way, Granite Bay
Info: To RSVP and for information, call (916) 791-4146.