To schedule a workshop, please contact programcoordinator@touchofunderstanding.org

This three hour workshop involves a speaker portion and a hands-on activity station portion.

In the Activity Portion, the students become familiar with the tools associated with disabilities. In the Mobility Station, they use wheelchairs and handle a variety of braces and artificial limbs.  In the Vision Station, they use white mobility canes and write in Braille.  In the Invisible Disability Station, they do a mirror-writing exercise to understand the experience of having a learning disability and use audio recording to help understand some of the challenges of autism.

During the Speaker Portion participants meet with ATOU’s volunteers who have disabilities, who share their insight and experiences with humor and honesty.

Required Space and Equipment

  • 2 rooms for activity stations and speakers (rooms have to be wheelchair accessible and better if close to activity room and restrooms)
  • 2 TV, DVD players or a projector for activity station room and speaker room
  • 2 cafeteria style (or comparable) tables which seat 10-15 students, one for the Braille exercise and one for mirror writing.
  • 2 tables (6-8 feet long) are needed for display of prosthetic devices.
  • Chairs for teachers and guests
  • Trailer unloading area

Cost
One full workshop, which includes both the activity portion and the speaker portion, costs $600 for 40 students to participate. For every student above 40, the cost increases by $14 per student. So, if you had 88 children in your fourth grade, the cost would be: $1312, since the numbers of students exceed 40 in each group.

If there are fewer than 40 students in a group, the cost is still $600. So, if there are fewer than 80 students participating in 2 workshops, the cost would still be $1200. Ideally, we work with no more than 45 students in one group.  However, each school is different and we are as flexible as possible in scheduling.

  • In two workshops (that run concurrently) we can handle a maximum of 105 students.  (3 hours)
  • In 3 workshops we can handle a maximum of 135 students. (3 hours + 1.5 hours after break)

Follow up- Each child is given a take-home packet at the end of the program that includes an activity book to reinforce what they learned, info about Autism, a Braille alphabet card, a bookmark, a button and most importantly a survey.  They complete this survey at home with parents’ aid, so that parents are also aware of what they have  learned.  We ask teachers to collect these surveys and mail it back to us in the envelope that we provide.  The activity book suggests numerous exercises/activities/projects to do in school to help the kids build up on what they have experienced.  Additionally, we also provide a poster to be signed by all the children who pledge “to be a buddy and not a bully.”

Evaluation Results

The 2012-2013 teacher/student survey responses highlight a significant increase in positive attitudes towards peers with a disability:

  • 94% of responding students said it would now be easier to make friends with someone with a disability
  • 86% teachers said ATOU improved peer interactions in their classroom
  • 100% teachers want each of their classes to experience the ATOU workshop

Please see the calendar of scheduled workshops here.  Workshops are usually conducted on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.