Students gain 'a touch of understanding'

Group teaches kids at Ridgeview Elementary School about tolerance and disability awareness
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A Touch of Understanding visited Ridgeview Elementary School in Granite Bay Thursday and Friday to teach students about tolerance and disability awareness. The local nonprofit organization presented to the school’s entire fifth-grade class, which totaled about 200 students. The school’s Parent Teacher Club funds the program once a year. Ridgeview Principal Patrice McCallum has worked in the Eureka Union School District for 19 years and has seen several of the organization’s presentations. “This was one of our best years yet,” McCallum said. “The students were so involved and excited and they seemed to take more away from (the presentation).” During the event, students tried out stations to learn about different disabilities. They walked with canes, wrote in Braille, learned how people with autism process information, witnessed people with missing limbs function and traveled in a wheelchair around a course on campus. Afterward, 12 students participated in a focus group to offer their feedback. One student, McCallum said, was impressed with how the presenters with disabilities didn’t focus on what they cannot do — but what they can do. Father-daughter team, Edward Ennis and Leslie DeDora, founded A Touch of Understanding in the early 1990s to promote acceptance and respect for all individuals, especially those with disabilities. Since then, volunteers have spoken to tens of thousands of students in the greater Sacramento area. ~ Sena Christian