Joe Rich, winner of the 67th Annual Israel A. Shapiro Citizenship Award, is going Over The Edge as part of the United Way of NNY’s “Look Up To Your Hero” Event!

Joe founded the Disabled Persons Action Organization in 1974 and today serves as President of the DPAO Foundation, which raises funds for the 500 families in Jefferson and Lewis counties who use DPAO services. The services help families cope with the stress of caring for their disabled loved ones in their own homes.

In partnering with the United Way, Joe is raising funds for DPAO’s Snozelen Room, which provides a therapeutic multi-sensory environment designed to promote intellectual activity and to encourage relaxation. Some of the items DPAO would purchase include a magnetic sand box, tactile board with a variety of textures, magnetic wall and tactile activities such as locks, doorknobs, sensory bags, eye spy tubes, aromatic items, noise makers, etc.

Sensory stimulating activities are a vital part of working with our children.  It gives the consumers a chance to interact with their environment, opens doors or communication, engages their senses and in many cases is a calming presence. 

These sensory items would be for children aged 4 – 18 and include all that have developmental disabilities.  Some of the goals include:  provide visual and auditory relaxation techniques, regulate sleep/wake cycles for those with difficulties settling down, enhance gross/bi-lateral motor coordination and provide a variety of textures to help with tactile processing.

Joe Rich, a true hero to the families who depend on DPAO, welcomes your contribution to Over the Edge!

 To see a video of Joe on Channel 7, go to