Raising Disability Awareness at Local Schools
Roseville, CA- Amy Giffin has been volunteering with A Touch of Understanding (ATOU) for two years. She wanted to find a place to get connected and involved, after moving to Roseville from San Diego. A friend brought Amy to see an ATOU workshop, and immediately, Amy knew she found her “home” and has been a workshop speaker ever since.
As a non-profit organization, ATOU provides disability awareness workshops to school-aged children throughout the greater Sacramento region. With a small staff, ATOU is heavily reliant on volunteers such as Amy. At each workshop students get to experience hands-on activities exploring what it would be like to have a disability. In addition, 2-4 volunteers with disabilities share their stories and how they meet their goals and objectives. Amy speaks about her own disabilities. She talks about her cerebral palsy, as well as a form of a learning disability called dyscalculia, which resembles dyslexia, but has more to do with math and numbers. The final disability that Amy talks about is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which she acquired about six years ago after losing her mom to breast cancer.
In addition to a wheelchair, Amy talks about some of the other tools she uses to accomplish her goals. She shows an example of “touch math” which helps her with numbers, and finally, her newest friend and tool, Mocha. Mocha and Amy are training together through Four Paws to Freedom, which is an organization that trains and certifies emotional support dogs for people who live with PTSD.
“I love showing students that disabilities are not something that defines me, it is just part of me,” Amy shares. “I love when students come up to me after a workshop and share their own story of loss or ask for a hug. It helps them to feel comfortable with their own story. If I can touch the life of just one or two students, then I know I have done my job.”
For more information on A Touch of Understanding and ways to get involved, go to www.touchofunderstanding.org
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