The Youth Rally Committee creates a community for young people with rare medical conditions to bond over shared experiences, learn about symptom management, and find relief from the sense of alienation that accompanies these rare conditions. Kids aged 11–17 with bowel and bladder disorders such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and cancers of the bowel or bladder come together once a year for a weeklong rally on a college campus. During their stay, they take part in outdoor games and off-campus trips to local museums, and learn how to manage their conditions with activities overseen by nurses and counselors who also have similar conditions. Counselor skits and a camp dances relieve stress in the evenings, while off-campus events promote medical self-management in a public setting.
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To help all children start the school year prepared with necessary supplies and resources, the Center for Family Services’ Operation Backpack initiative provides backpacks filled with school supplies to children ages 4–19. By alleviating students’ fears or stresses related to not having the required school supplies, the program helps to ensure that kids and teens can concentrate on their classes, thus laying a foundation for academic success and ideally propelling them toward finishing high school and attending college.
Hosted by the Builders League of South Jersey, the 5th annual Run for Our Troops is a one-day event that challenges participants to walk or run a 5K race in order to raise funds and celebrate the service of America's troops. Special remembrance and celebration ceremonies honor all soldiers who have served in the United States armed forces, and funds raised through the race benefit Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds and remodels homes to aid soldiers returning home.
Sensory overload doesn’t begin to describe Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. A seemingly boundless compilation of colors, textures, and shapes, the labyrinthine mosaic creation spans 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The masterpiece originated in the brain of Isaiah Zagar, a Philadelphia native who grew up in New York. During his third year of art school, he stumbled upon Clarence Schmidt’s folk-art-inspired installations—assemblages of found objects and recycled materials—and the young artist’s view of the art world changed. “I didn't know that I was looking at art,” Zagar reflects in his mission statement. Self-admittedly, Zagar has been somewhat “copying” Schmidt’s dynamic, free-flowing style ever since.
The years after art school brought Zagar an onslaught of new opportunities. He spent time as an artist in China and India, joined the Peace Corps with his wife Julia, settled in Peru for three years, and even tried his hand at ceramics in Wisconsin. In the ‘60s, he and Julia returned to his birthplace—specifically, the waning South Street neighborhood. Isaiah quickly leapt into action, renovating dilapidated buildings and often adding mosaics to formerly barren walls. Eventually, Isaiah’s imagination outgrew their projects, and in 1994 he began constructing a new piece in a vacant lot near his studio—the project would become Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah spent 14 precious years, which he should have applied to Y2K preparations, scooping out tunnels, erecting multitiered walls, and splashing the entire space in colorful tile. The finished product stretches across half a block of South Street; the outside enclosure shimmering with vibrant tiles, the inside housing folk art, colored glass bottles, and countless sparkling mirrors. Now a nonprofit organization, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens invites visitors to enjoy its visual candy with guided or self-guided tours.
Philadelphia’s history fills the pages of textbooks across the world. William Penn, Benjamin Franklin, and the Liberty Bell fill the indexes. But these texts do little to educate people on and preserve the physical history of Philadelphia, specifically its buildings.
Enter the nonprofit Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. Its volunteer team of tour guides leads architectural walking tours past downtown Philadelphia’s landmarks, buildings, and cityscapes, and its staff coordinates an array of events each month, which have previously included graveyard tours, concerts, and archaeological digs. Proceeds from these activities, along with various grants, are then used to preserve the Philadelphia region’s historical buildings, subsequently preserving its historical communities and the story of the city's influential past.
The nonprofit Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary photography, offering a wide range of engaging opportunities for anyone interested in photography and the arts through educational programs, events, and exhibitions. A team of fine-art photographers, curators, and other arts professionals initiates the snapshot curious in affordable five-week classes and workshops that are suitable for photogs of all abilities. The teen program nurtures artistic impulses during afterschool hours, handing students loaner supplies and foraying into the city during field trips.