Project START collaborated with The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) providing funding for a brand-new motor-sensory room and loan library for their Gulf Coast location. The Children's Center is a non-profit with locations on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses of USM, through which they provide cost-free therapy for children age 0-5 with complex disabilities on a sensory room. The Children’s Center sees first-hand the difference that motor and sensory rooms can make in a child’s life. Therapy does not end when the child leaves the Center or when the therapist leaves his/her home, and the existence of a loan library helps the families continue meeting their child’s specific needs far beyond when the session ends. Nearly all of the children served out of The Children’s Center’s Gulf Park location are identified as having sensory differences and/or motor delays or disabilities. Thanks to the partnership with Mississippi’s Project START, they now have a custom-designed, state of the art motor-sensory room within the Center. That combined with the new loan library will undoubtedly increase the efficacy of the therapy received by The Children’s Center’s children for years to come.
Approximately 77 children from the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Stone, George and Pearl River Counties) have benefitted from the specialized equipment provided by Project START. This specialized equipment stimulates the development of motor, language, self-help, cognitive, and social emotional skills while engaging the child in fun, interactive play. The Children’s Center is committed to providing communicative and developmental transdisciplinary services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while educating, training and supporting families, university students, and professionals. The specialized equipment provided by the partnership with Project START enables the children and families to grow in each needed area in a safe space with qualified therapist to guide them. The sensory wall allowed each child’s parent in the room to be guided on the needs of their child, learning how to continue to stimulate their child in the home, and cheering on their child’s success! The funding provided for the sensory room was a one-time event, but the continued success of reaching children and parents will last for years to come.