About The Founder

Christine Rouse, Founder and Executive Director of AWB, created Acting Without Boundaries in 2004 because of her personal experiences growing up with Cerebral Palsy. Since 1991, Christine has been a source of inspiration and motivation for thousands of children through her disabled awareness educational workshop, Kids are Kids. Following her graduation from Saint Joseph’s University in 2002, Christine began to further develop her interest in theater and the performing arts. She has received extensive training at various acting programs across the country and is the recipient of a number of awards including the 1994 Presidential Award from the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine. In March of 2012 Christine was featured on The Today Show’s “Everyone Has a Story” segment. She was chosen for this honor after submitting the following essay:

Everyone Has a Story

My name is Christine Rouse and I am the executive director of two non-profits, “Kids are Kids” and Acting Without Boundaries. My story began on the day I was born, June 25, 1974. I was born with Cerebral Palsy. All my life I was in a regular school. Grade school was wonderful and I met three of my best friends there, but when I went to high school things were very different. In high school I was ridiculed and isolated by fellow classmates because of my Cerebral Palsy. The experience in high school was very difficult, however, it was a life changing experience for me. I realized the reason why kids might make fun of people is that that they were never educated about people with disabilities.

In 1991 when I was just sixteen years old I decided to take my bad experience and turn it into a mission to help people with and without disabilities. I created” Kids are Kids,” a disability awareness educational workshop that comes from my personal experience with Cerebral Palsy. The theme of my workshop is “What makes us Different makes us Beautiful.” I created this theme to teach children and adults that everyone has special qualities that makes them unique. For over 15 years, “Kids Are Kids” has been spreading this message to schools, colleges, civic organizations, summer camps and conventions throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.

I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA in 2002 with a BA in elementary education. I was not sure what I would do after graduation. I went to a summer performing arts program in Maine for people with physical disabilities. The experience was life changing for many reasons and it was my first time spending a length of time with people with similar challenges. My family came up to my performance in Maine and couldn’t help but notice the change in me. I was very self-confident and gained my independence. My brothers are in the children’s summer camp industry and knew that a similar program was needed in the Philadelphia area. I now knew what my life’s mission was.

In 2004, Acting Without Boundaries (AWB) was Born! AWB is a unique year-round theater program that provides an open forum for the creative and artistic expression for children, teenagers and young adults with physical disabilities. The goal of the program is to provide young people from the disabled community with the opportunity to pursue their love of acting and performing while building their self-confidence, including an enhanced belief in themselves and their abilities. The actors in AWB have various physical disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Blindness, Traumatic Brain Injury, Muscular Dystrophy, and Spina Bifida. Despite their physical challenges they all focus on their ABIILTY rather than their disabilities.

I love the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The programs I have created not only help people but also have helped me by knowing that I have a mission in life.

Through AWB Christine is successfully paving the way to acceptance and inclusion for young people with disabilities by encouraging them to not let their disabilities stand in the way of achieving their goals and dreams.
 

“I think people are genuinely curious about people
who have disabilities and want to know more.”
-Christine Rouse, Executive Director, AWB