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New Directions for people with disabilities, inc. iis a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing local, national, and international travel vacations and holiday programs for people with mild to moderate developmental disabilities.

These profoundly enriching educational travel opportunities expand experiential learning and dramatically enhance the self-esteem of every traveler.

Our programs open whole new worlds of understanding for both the participants and the general population.

Through these programs, people with disabilities are increasingly understood, appreciated and accepted as important and contributing members of our world.

Christmas at Disneyland! Swim with the dolphins in Hawaii! Jet boat in Fiji! Ski in Colorado! New Directions believes that persons with disabilities deserve the same opportunities in life that others expect and enjoy. Our profoundly enriching travel programs expand the self-esteem of every traveler. Our enthusiastic and professional staff are trained to work with people with developmental disabilities and offer extreme safety and fun on every vacation/adventure tour.

Dee Duncan started New Directions in 1985 after having worked for eight years in a large residential facility for adults with developmental disabilities. As part of her duties at this facility, she frequently arranged travel vacations for its two hundred residents. Of all the therapeutic programs that this care facility provided, the travel vacations stood out as the most beneficial. The tours proved to be the perfect environment for "hands-on" education (so much better than classroom or textbook education!), for practicing independent living skills in the "real" world, and for fostering flexibility in new or different situations (a critical need for all persons with brain impairment). In addition, the tours were the ideal avenue for promoting acceptance and inclusion among the general population.

The benefits were so enormous that Dee felt compelled to offer these programs to others with brain impairments. She researched and found no other organization that provided this type of specialized travel service.

Dee started from the dining room table of her small studio apartment, with a cardboard box for files, and her 75-year old mother as her assistant! Starting capital was $8,000-- the total of Dee's personal savings. Most important, she had an unwavering commitment to making these important travel programs available to people with disabilities.

In 2015 New Directions will celebrate its 30th anniversary! We have successfully taken over 15,000 people on life-enriching vacations all over the world--promoting inclusion all along the way. Currently with an annual budget of over $1,000,000 we offer more than 40 travel vacation programs annually, a variety of day tours, and an international exchange program, all of which serve approximately 500 participants annually. Most participants live in the Southern California area, but some live in other states and even in other countries. To date, our youngest has been 7 and oldest 93.

The fastest growing and most successful program has been the Holiday Happiness Program. Dee Duncan started with one Holiday Happiness program in 1985. She noticed that many of the residents were being left behind at the care facility during the holidays, while their peers as well as staff were packing their bags for home. Dee decided to take those who had been “left behind” to Disneyland that year for Christmas. Holiday Happiness is a 4-day program offered annually in December to people living in care facilities in California. These persons are generally wards of the state or have been abandoned by their families.

The program offers a home-style Christmas complete with deluxe hotel accommodations, gourmet meals, Disneyland and California Adventure, hand-made stockings, gifts galore, and dedicated staff and volunteers offering huge amounts of love and joy. This year New Directions will offer five large programs (25 to 30 participants each) at Christmas time, with additional programs offered at every major holiday.

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New Directions tours are exceptionally high quality. Preparations include extensive research, fully custom arrangements, hundreds of safety-related details, medical/behavior reviews and individual attention. Staff to traveler ratio ranges from 1:1 through 1:4. We feel these labor intensive preparations and ratios are essential to ensure a safe and normalized experience. We strive to offer each person the maximum opportunity for choice, independence, socialization and the application of practical living skills. Of course, we don't forget to add a solid dose of just plain old fun.

If we charged what it actually cost to provide these services, the tours would be impossible for most to pay. For this reason, ALL tours are subsidized through donations.


$10: Will buy materials to hand-decorate one festive Christmas stocking for one traveler with developmental disabilities.

$15: Will buy stocking stuffers to fill the beautiful hand-decorated stocking.

$20: Will buy 2 cuddly stuffed animals to bring smiles of joy.

$75: Will buy 5 gifts for Santa to deliver to a traveler to open on Christmas morning at the gift-opening extravaganza.

$85: Will buy one Disneyland passport for one day, often the first visit to Disneyland for our travelers with developmental disabilities.

$125: Will provide a Disneyland passport and all meals and snacks for one day to one of our travelers with developmental disabilities visiting Disneyland.

$250: Will provide round trip airfare for one of our travelers to Disneyland.

$600: Will provide a half scholarship for a 4 day Holiday Happiness Extravaganza Tour for one special traveler, which includes ground transportation to and from LAX, 3 night’s stay at the beautiful Anaheim Marriott, a 2 day passport to Disneyland, all meals and snacks, Christmas gifts, a special visit from Santa in the Marriott’s Presidential Suite, and round the clock care provided by our dedicated staff and of course much love from our tour guides and volunteers!

$1250: Will provide a full scholarship for a 4 day Holiday Happiness Extravaganza Tour for one special traveler, which includes ground transportation to and from LAX, 3 night’s stay at the beautiful Anaheim Marriott, a 2 day passport to Disneyland, all meals and snacks, Christmas gifts, a special visit from Santa in the Marriott’s Presidential Suite, and round the clock care provided by our dedicated staff and of course much love from our tour guides and volunteers!

A 12 passenger van with wheelchair lift, incidental supplies such as tooth paste, tooth-brushes, band-aids, sunscreen for our travelers, underwear and socks (all sizes for both male and female travelers), printing supplies and typesetting labor, large travel bags.

New Directions has an Integrated Work Program, helping people with disabilities acquire paid employment and the necessary skills to be competent in the work force. Currently, there are four part-time employees adding hours of valuable skills to this vital organization. This program exists to encourage people with disabilities to reach their full potential and to be contributing members of an integrated work environment.

Disneyland helpers, airport helpers, office work

Dee Duncan named “Woman of the Year” by Santa Barbara’s highly respected Soroptimist International.

Travel and Leisure Magazine’s Mark of Innovation Award
Honored by Special Olympics.

New Directions honored by countless local, state, and national newspapers throughout its history.

To help keep fees down, we use volunteers and solicit donated goods and services whenever possible.

Our longterm goal is to decrease tour fees. We want to publish an affordable price---that is the same price that others without disabilities would pay for a similar tour.

With your help and support through donations we will achieve this goal. As a non profit organization, we depend on the community and like minded individuals to help us achieve these goals. New Directions would be delighted to count you as a supporter. If you would like further information, please don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Donations for Scholarships Needed!
All donations are tax deductible.
Federal Tax I.D. #77-0147768
Current list of Donors


501(c)(3) not for profit corporation