History of AWB
Acting Without Boundaries (AWB) was established in 2004 to provide extraordinary, one-of-a-kind acting and theatrical opportunities for children, teens and young adults with physical disabilities. At its core, AWB is a unique year-round theater program that provides an open forum for the creative and artistic expression of young people with physical disabilities, over the age of four. The primary goal of AWB is to provide young people from the disabled community with the rare opportunity to pursue their love of acting and performing while building their self-confidence and developing an enhanced belief in themselves and their abilities.
Christine Rouse, Founder and Executive Director of AWB, created Acting Without Boundaries in 2004 because of her personal experiences growing up with Cerebral Palsy. In high school, Christine tried to fuel her passion for acting by auditioning time and again for school and community plays but disappointingly, she was never cast in a lead role. It was extremely difficult for her to fit in and to feel a part of the “in-crowd” because of her physical disability. What’s more, there were very few outlets and opportunities for Christine to engage in activities with other physically challenged teenagers. Christine’s personal experience with Cerebral Palsy coupled with the lack of resources for children and teenagers with physical disabilities provided the impetus for Christine to launch a life-changing acting program for young people in similar situations. Christine has said of her decision to establish Acting Without Boundaries, “I love to act, but I always had a difficult time. I wanted to create a place where kids could get involved in theater, form friendships and gain confidence.”
AWB is much more than a theater program – it is a place where actors feel like they belong. Through their theatrical work and social outings and opportunities, AWB actors build lasting friendships. An AWB parent described the organization and its participants as being like a “family” and she is right. AWB actors and staff have developed a strong bond with each other that lasts for years. New actors are welcomed with open arms and made to quickly feel like they belong. Everyone finds a place at AWB where they are supported and encouraged.
Acting Without Boundaries is a non-profit organization that relies on support from kindhearted individuals, foundations and corporations. The organization does not receive any public support nor does it have any permanent funding streams. What AWB does is unique. There is no other organization in the Philadelphia region that provides theater arts opportunities to young people with physical disabilities.