March 20, 2007

Airport Helps Match Parents With Foster Children

Philadelphia - Travelers arriving at Philadelphia International Airport are greeted by a new exhibition in the Airport's B/C Baggage Claim Building that seeks to create families by focusing on the plight of foster children in need of stable, loving homes.

A collaborative effort of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services, the Heart Gallery of Philadelphia and the Airport, the exhibit displays portraits of 13 foster children hoping for adoption. The children range in age from 2 to 17 years old. In addition to the portraits, which were taken by professional photographers donating their time and expertise, there are brief descriptions of the children that showcase their unique personalities.

According to Terry Hirst, Heart Gallery of Philadelphia's Director of Photography, the Airport is a perfect venue for such a display due to the large number of passengers who pass through it daily. Upon realizing this, she contacted the Airport in 2005 and proposed the project. In December of that year, the Airport presented its first Heart Gallery of Philadelphia portrait collection.

"Our primary goal is to increase awareness of the needs of these children," says Hirst. "Judging from the increase in visitors to our website after our first exhibit, I think we accomplished that."

The Heart Gallery of Philadelphia is an offshoot of a program that originated in New Mexico in 2001 and has since gone national. It addresses a fundamental problem in helping foster children connect with potential adoptive parents.

"Before this program," says Hirst, "most pictures of children who were up for adoption resembled driver's license photos. You really got no sense of who they were as people."

By photographing the children in a way that allows their personalities to shine through, Hirst and others hope to transform them from statistics to individuals, thereby improving the odds that they will be adopted.

For Aviation Director Charles Isdell, the humanitarian aspect of this project sets it apart from most of the other works featured in the Airport's eight-year-old Exhibitions Program.

"This is a chance to give something back to the community and make a difference in children's lives," said Isdell. "There is no more worthwhile pursuit."

Visitors to the Airport can view the Heart Gallery of Philadelphia display in the B-C Baggage Claim area, which is open to the public. Additional information may be obtained at The exhibition will run through June of 2007.

For information contact:
Mark Pesce
(215) 937-6944


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