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Art Ability benefits Project SEARCH and careers for people with disabilities

Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital December 23, 2021 General Wellness

Every year hundreds of artists from around the globe—all having some form of physical or cognitive disability—exhibit their work in a juried, curated art exhibition through Art Ability, a unique program of Bryn Mawr Rehab, part of Main Line Health.

Now in its 26th year, Art Ability works are on display at Bryn Mawr Rehab until January 30, 2022. Artwork can be purchased through an easy-to-use online sales gallery.

Throughout the year, Art Ability serves as a showcase and celebration of artists with disabilities. In addition, it provides artists with the opportunity to strengthen their economic independence and bring their work to new audiences. Funds raised support the livelihoods of the artists. This year, they also benefit another important community program focused on career development for individuals with disabilities, Project SEARCH.

Supporting careers for people with disabilities

Project SEARCH is Bryn Mawr Rehab's educational and vocational internship program for adults with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. The program was significantly impacted during the pandemic and the funds raised from this year's special donation appeal will support Bryn Mawr Rehab's work to return Project SEARCH to full operations.

History of Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is a groundbreaking job training and placement program that has helped reframe the way in which the community thinks about people with disabilities and the importance of their full inclusion in the workforce. First created at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital as a job placement program for high school students, the program was brought to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in 2010.

At that time, Bryn Mawr Rehab welcomed its first class of Project SEARCH interns. Bryn Mawr Rehab's Project SEARCH program became the first in the Philadelphia region and only the second in the country to offer an adult-only vocational internship program for people with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Over the last eleven years, the program has grown to provide resources for almost 200 adults with a variety of disabilities, and has made a lasting impact on our interns, business partners, and communities across the region. The greatest impact started right here at Main Line Health, enhancing our culture of Diversity, Respect, Equity & Inclusion (DREI) and positioning us as an organization that leads by example when it comes to providing work opportunities for people of diverse abilities.

During the height of COVID, Project SEARCH paused briefly in order to create a virtual classroom and teach the participating interns the skills needed to effectively use the required technology in the new virtual classroom setting.

As a result, the interns learned a new skillset needed to succeed virtually. On-site at Bryn Mawr Rehab, the Walsh House Community Room was transformed to support in-person interns in a safe, socially-distanced space. Throughout the pandemic, Bryn Mawr Rehab was still able to support 16 interns in a virtual environment. Five interns even secured employment during the pandemic!

Find out more about Art Ability and see the talent showcase of artists with disabilities from around the world.

You can also learn more about Project SEARCH and how you can support this valuable community program. For more information about Project SEARCH, contact our program coordinator at 484.596.5406.