USM Children’s Center cuts ribbon on new playground funded by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation – Picayune Item

On Tuesday, October 19, the Children’s Center for Communication and Development officially cut the ribbon on its brand new playground on the Gulf Park campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Long Beach, made possible by a donation from the Cross. Blue and the Mississippi Blue Shield Foundation via the USM Foundation.

A beautiful fall day set the scene for Center guests as they celebrated the space and listened to representatives from the Children’s Center, USM, and the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation talk about the impact it will have on countless families for years to come. to come.

At the Children’s Center, a playground is more than a playground. For this non-profit organization that provides free services to babies and young children with disabilities on both USM campuses, a playground is a place of therapy. And in many cases, this can be one of the most naturally motivating settings of therapy, as it provides countless opportunities to work on language, motor skills, and social skills through play.

“We are extremely grateful to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation for their partnership in building this outdoor playground and therapy space,” said Sarah Myers, director of the Children’s Center. “The grant was $ 323,540 and the goals of the grant project were to target therapeutic steps such as peer social interaction and active movement, including age-appropriate play skills. We worked closely with the foundation and playground designer, Moonshot Recreation with Landscape Structures, to design a space that would encourage children to develop these skills through outdoor play.

And those in attendance could see these skills being targeted in person as the kids at the Children’s Center walked along the balance beam, raced against each other on the bike path, took turns pushing buttons and pulled levers on the body of water and interacted with each other. on the swing for two.

“The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation is proud to partner with the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation and the Children’s Center to provide a play area to encourage children and their families to spend more time outdoors participating in activities. fun games, ”said Sheila Grogan, president of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. “The Foundation has a vision for a healthy Mississippi, and studies show that there are a variety of health benefits from interactive outdoor play, including physical and cognitive development and social well-being. and emotional.

“Thanks to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, we now have a custom designed space that will be used as an essential therapeutic resource for the 50 families we currently serve there, as well as many more over the years. future. “Said Myers.” What a great gift the Foundation has given us – the gift of play therapy. “

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