A Touch of Understanding, Inc.
A Touch of Understanding, Inc. (ATOU) was founded in 1992 by father-daughter team Edward Ennis and Leslie DeDora with the desire to relieve the discrimination and social isolation experienced by children with disabilities. Believing in the power of education and the ultimate worth of all human beings, they designed an educational program to dispel the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding people who are perceived by their peers to be "different", especially when that perception arises as the result of a disability. Their vision developed into a successful pilot program and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1996 with the mission of encouraging acceptance and respect for all individuals. Since then, they have taken the program’s message to more than 80,000 students, in public and private schools, juvenile correctional facilities, teacher trainings, colleges and fraternal organizations throughout the Sacramento region and surrounding counties.
In 2010, the ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. (Friends Offering Respect, Creating Empowerment) was formed. This inclusive group of young people, some with disabilities and some without, is a youth/adult partnership offering character-building leadership opportunities for youth who have expressed the desire to be involved with ATOU after experiencing the in-school workshop. ATOU has received numerous awards over the years for our role in promoting empathy and respect for all individuals.