MossRehab has a long history of working to help people with disabilities gain access to the same places, programs, and activities as everyone else. Originally founded to help people with chronic illnesses recover and live fuller lives, MossRehab expanded its charter in the 1970s to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities at all levels of the government and within the community. Over the years, Moss has sponsored and developed different recreational, driving, and social programs to give people with disabilities access to the same experiences and opportunities as anyone.
For many, driving is an important milestone in recovery. To help patients regain this skill and move one step closer to independence, MossRehab established a Driving Program in 1974, one of the first of its kind in the nation, to get people back behind the wheel. The program maintains specially-equipped vehicles to address different impairments. Today, the MossRehab Driving Program is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind on the East Coast.
Accessible Camping and Golfing Experiences
Around that same time, MossRehab introduced a weeklong camp program for adults with physical disabilities. Called "Camp Independence", it's held at the Variety Club Camp in Worcester, PA, and provides access to traditional social and recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, archery, wiffle ball, arts & crafts, talent shows, themed-parties, and horticulture classes to persons with different abilities. The overnight camp allows campers an opportunity to socialize and make life-long friends with individuals having similar disabilities. The week ends with a giant campfire, which culminates the program. One of the biggest positives of Camp Independence is the chance it gives to the campers' caretakers and loved ones to refresh and recharge, knowing that their loved ones are in the care of professional, dedicated staff.
For those interested in learning to golf, MossRehab’s Therapeutic Recreation Department sponsors the First Swing Adaptive Golf Clinic in coordination with the Eastern Amputee Golf Association. This one-day clinic instructs those with physical disabilities and their families on the basics of adapted golf while providing a fun way to build muscle control, coordination, and flexibility.
Since 2012, MossRehab even helped persons with disabilities experience the ocean while surfing. Each year, physical therapists, occupational therapists, physicians, nurses, administrators and other staff members participate in They Will Surf Again. Held in Wildwood, NJ and hosted by Life Rolls On, this event gives people with disabilities the opportunity to ride the waves for a day with the help of adaptive surfboards. “We represent the largest volunteer group to help these individuals enjoy a day of surfing,” explains Julie Hensler-Cullen, Director of Education and Quality at MossRehab. "This event brings people with disabilities out into the waves where they experience the thrill of riding a wave, skimming the sea as salt water splashes their face and dozens of people cheer and support them."
Creating a Positive Image
MossRehab also lobbies for causes that provide a positive impact for individuals with disabilities of all kinds. A current initiative includes promoting a new accessibility icon to designate parking spaces for people with disabilities. Replacing the symbol of a stationary person, the new image shows a person leaning forward as if on the move. Since the new parking icon is not mandatory, MossRehab is reaching out to the community and beyond to adopt it.
In 2014, MossRehab, and the entire Einstein Healthcare Network, started using the new symbol in its parking lots and got positive feedback from patients and staff. The next step was lobbying the City of Philadelphia to adopt the symbol. “Mayor Jim Kenney painted the first of the new spots in a parking lot across the street from City Hall,” Hensler-Cullen remarks. “The City of Philadelphia will continue to adopt it whenever they repaint current parking lots.”
Citizens Bank Park, the Philadelphia Convention Center, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art also have implemented the new accessibility symbol. Most recently, Green Hill Condos located in Wynnewood, PA, adopted the new symbol to mark designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities. MossRehab was on hand and provided the template for painting the new icon.
“MossRehab will continue to motivate and inspire other businesses in the community, such as the Greenhill Condos, to make the switch to a more positive accessible symbol not only for parking lots, but restrooms, and other accessible areas,” notes Hensler-Cullen.
Learn about MossRehab’s Living Beyond Disabilities Program that can connect you with professional expertise and community resources.
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Michael Parlatore, DPT, is a physical therapist and clinical manager at MossRehab Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.
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