Deaf-Blind Actors Star in Theatrical Experience April 3

In the unique theatrical experience Not By Bread Alone, eleven deaf-blind actors from Israel’s Nalaga’at Theater Ensemble will take audiences on a tour through their inner worlds of darkness and silence. As the cast bakes bread in real time on a fully-lit stage, they tell stories through sign, movement, and spoken word that express their own magical dreams and desires.

While the bread is rising in the oven, the audience gains unique access to a magical world where the senses are challenged as never before. This insightful, sensitive, once-in-a-lifetime theatrical experience comes to Boston with rave reviews and sold-out runs in London, New York, and the company’s home city of Tel Aviv.

The performance will be held at Paramount Center Mainstage, 559 Washington Street, Boston on Thursday April 3 at 7:30 pm. Click here to purchase tickets. The special discount code BREADHALF allows you to buy one, get one half off at either the $80 or $65 ticket price.

 

In Memoriam: Cathy Jepsen

Understanding Our Differences mourns the passing of Catherine R. “Cathy” Jepsen.  Cathy was a quintessential teacher to all her family and friends and left a lasting impact on her many Newton students.

Cathy was involved with Understanding Our Differences from the program’s first days at the Williams School over three decades ago. As an elementary school teacher, she integrated the UOD program into every aspect of her fourth grade curriculum.  She was a strong advocate for the program at a time when faculty and administrators questioned whether Understanding Our Differences should remain part of the Newton Public Schools’ curriculum.

After her retirement, Cathy continued to donate her time, mentoring Newton teachers and championing UOD.

“I know that Cathy has touched many of your lives, as she did mine. She will be missed,” said Board Co-President Gary Alpert.

 

 

Do Blind People Dream?

By David Ticchi, UOD Program Speaker & Long-time Teacher in the Newton Public Schools

Author’s Note: This question was asked of me by a third grade student as part of the speaker portion of the Blindness and Low Vision unit of Understanding Our Differences.

The answer is yes. Blind people dream both literally and figuratively.  A totally blind person has auditory dreams and someone who is visually impaired dreams with visual impairment.  We don’t fall asleep and have 20-20 vision, although that would be interesting.  We also dream figuratively because like the sighted we have hopes and dreams for people whom we care about and love and for ourselves.

 

Cabot Core Values: Digital Quilt Project

In 2013, the program director of Understanding Our Differences, Maren Oslund, and UOD board members Jan Spiro and Marcia Herrmann visited every classroom at Cabot Elementary School in Newton. Maren read the book “It’s Ok to be Different” by Todd Parr and we discussed how it is ok to appreciate and understand everyone’s differences. The students were then instructed to create a quilt square that illustrated the idea “It’s Ok to…”.

Directions: To show the video, first click on the play button and then click on the four way arrow symbol on the bottom right to view the video in fullscreen.

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UOD Receives Grant from Rockland Trust

(l to r) David Felton, Vice President and Senior Business Banking Officer, Rockland Trust, presents a check for a $2,500 grant to Rebecca Lubens, UOD Executive Director, with Marcia Herrmann, UOD Board Co-President;  Bruce Coggeshall, Rockland Trust Newton Branch Manager, and Gary Alpert, UOD Board Co-President.

Family Book Event Oct. 28

Online Registration is now closed. Registration is available at the door beginning at 6:15 pm.

We are thrilled to announce that we’ll be holding our second annual family book event on Oct. 28th at 7:00 pm. We’re bringing Sharon Draper, author of the NY Times bestselling children’s book, Out of My Mind (about a girl with cerebral palsy), to Newton South High School.

About Out of My Mind:  Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but no one knows it.   Most people – her teachers and doctors included – don’t think she’s capable of learning. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can’t, because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write. Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind – that is, until she discovers assistive technology that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice, but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

About Sharon Draper:
Sharon M. Draper is a two-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning author, most recently for Copper Sun, and previously for Forged by Fire. She’s also the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Author Award for New Talent for Tears of a Tiger and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for The Battle of Jericho and November Blues. Her other books include Romiette and Julio, Darkness Before Dawn, Double Dutch, Just Another Hero, and The Clubhouse Mysteries. An Alan Award recipient, she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years.

 

 

Inclusive Schools Week: Digital Quilt Project

As part of Inclusive Schools Week, the program director of Understanding Our Differences, Maren Oslund, and UOD board member Jan Spiro visited every classroom at Burr Elementary School in Newton. Maren read the book “It’s Ok to be Different” by Todd Parr and we discussed how it is ok to appreciate and understand everyone’s differences. The students were then instructed to create a quilt square that illustrated the idea “It’s Ok to…”.

Directions: To show the video, first click on the play button and then click on the four way arrow symbol on the bottom right to view the video in fullscreen.

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Raising the Comfort Level: Special March Program

Raising Awareness

People with disabilities are part of today’s society – in school and at work, in our families and communities. While it is common to feel awkward around people of differing abilities, do you wish that you could be more at ease and know what to do? Or are you comfortable around one kind of disability, but not others?

Join us for an important and informative program on Wednesday evening March 20th – Raising the Comfort Level: Communicating and Interacting with People with Disabilities. Our presenter, Dr. David Ticchi, will share important tips to help you be more comfortable interacting with people with disabilities. In this 75-minute program, Dr. Ticchi will discuss the Respect for Human Differences Guidelines, which were developed at Newton North High School (NNHS). David is a long-time faculty member at NNHS; he also serves as Special Assistant to the President at Legal Sea Foods. He has been a speaker for Understanding Our Differences’ Blindness & Low Vision unit for over 25 years.

Wednesday, March 20th
7:00-8:30 pm
Newton Ed. Center, Room 304
100 Walnut Street, Newtonville

Pre-registration is required at this link. This presentation is intended for adults.

Meet Matt Dahl

By Jennifer Stone, UOD Board of Directors

Meet Matt Dahl:  NSHS senior, graduate of Understanding Our Differences, and newest fan of David Ticchi, long-time UOD speaker for the Blindness Unit.  When Matt received an assignment for his AP English class to write a profile of someone who represents a larger issue, he thought of Mr. Ticchi, who had spoken to Matt’s 3rd grade class at Countryside School for Understanding Our Differences.  Matt visited Mr. Ticchi at work (Mr. Ticchi serves as special assistant to the president of Legal Seafoods and teaches at NNHS) and at home to get to know him, and then wrote a terrific piece (click here to read it).

“He’s a great guy,” Matt says. “He has a lot of integrity – he’s self-assured and isn’t afraid to ask for help.” Matt can see why Mr. Ticchi is such a good teacher. “He’s eager to connect with people” and trusting of others’ good will, even allowing Matt to open his mail and read it to him.

But what really struck Matt was Mr. Ticchi’s “total competence.” “He can do anything people do who live in Cambridge,” including giving precise driving directions.

Matt’s mom, Kathy Dahl, volunteered for Understanding Our Differences at Countryside.  Matt has fond memories of the program, particularly the hands-on activities like the Brailler and adaptive tools such as hearing aides.

“I think UOD is a really important program” says Matt, because it instills values of curious understanding when kids are malleable.  “It counters the prejudice that is born out of ignorance.”  Matt credits his mom and Understanding Our Differences with helping to shape his own best self: open-minded, respectful and non-judgmental of others.

Matt’s project with Mr. Ticchi opened his eyes further to the unlimited potential of people with disabilities. “People with disabilities can accomplish anything.  Mr. Ticchi is a teacher, and I couldn’t ever be a teacher.” Maybe not, but we think Matt can do a great deal!

We wish Matt the best as he looks forward to graduation, college and a future career that could include international affairs or computer science.  We know that whatever he does, he will be his own best self: open to all and an articulate friend.

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