May 27, 2019  

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USM’s Children’s Center Holds First Inclusive Play Event

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The Children's Center for Communication and Development at USM held a "Play the Same" event on Sunday, Oct. 21.

The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at USM kicked off its first-ever inclusion-centered “Play the Same” event on Sunday, Oct. 21 with a visit from Rosie’s Ice Cream truck, face painting, and lots of smiling faces.

“Our mission behind launching this new event at The Children’s Center is to simply provide opportunities for typically developing children within the community to interact and play with our children with disabilities and communication disorders,” said Sarah Myers, assistant director and speech language pathologist at The Children’s Center.

“We want to spread the message that though we may not look, sound, or move the same, we all play the same. At The Children’s Center, we know that our differences make us beautiful, and that we have more in common with one another than we may know. We are hoping to offer the only re-occurring inclusive play event for families in the community, while simultaneously having a lot of fun.” 

And fun it was. Many families from the Hattiesburg area attended the event, which was held on the playground at The Children’s Center, and remarked on how much their children enjoyed their time to play. Even Rosie the dog seemed to have a smile on her face!

“I’m so glad The Children’s Center does things like this play event,” said Julie Emfinger, whose son, Drew, 4, is currently receiving therapy at The Center. “It did my heart good knowing we could go somewhere and no one look at Drew funny if he started doing things that are a little different.

She added: “There have been so many times that we’ve gone places and people would look at him for doing things differently or, even worse, try to carry on a conversation with him and then look at me as though I’ve done something wrong. It was just really nice to go somewhere and enjoy it instead of worry. We’re so thankful for The Children’s Center and what they do for us.”

The Children’s Center is grateful for those who came and made it such a fun day, and for event sponsor, Megan Burkes of the USM Foundation for making it possible. The Center staff looks forward to continuing similar events in the future.

About The Children’s Center for Communication and Development

The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi is a non-profit that provides cost-free communicative and developmental transdisciplinary services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while educating, training and supporting families, university students and professionals. For more information, visit