Gazebo Gazette

In spring of 2019, Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg began hosting an inclusive play event in partnership with The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM). 

Hosted on the Center’s playground, the now bi-annual Play the Same event drew families from the Hattiesburg area to the only event of its kind. Parents, Center staff, and JA members watched on as children of all abilities played together, enjoyed ice cream, and chose from various face paint options.

Fast forward four years, and this free play event now takes place on the Gulf Coast as well. Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport quickly saw the need for a similar type of event in their region and will be hosting its third Let’s Play with JA event on April 2, taking place at The Children’s Center’s playground on USM’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

“We’re so grateful that Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport has decided to bring this inclusive play event to the coast,” said Sarah Myers, Director at The Children’s Center. “They have done a wonderful job of taking what has worked in Hattiesburg and tailoring it to their community. There are not enough opportunities for children of all abilities to come together in a safe, inclusive environment and enjoy playing side by side. We’re so thankful that our partners at Junior Auxiliary recognize this and have helped fill that void.”

This iteration of Let’s Play with JA will include music, ice cream, face painting, and even a visit from the Easter bunny himself. 

“We plan to continue hosting our bi-annual Let’s Play with JA events at The Children’s Center,” said JA of Gulfport member Jayme Wayne. “We love having the chance to bring together families and children from our region in a way that promotes inclusive play. Our team leaves these events with the biggest smiles on our faces knowing that we have facilitated something so meaningful for families in our community.”

To find out more about these events, contact To keep up with future events and news from The Children’s Center, follow them on their Facebook page. You can find out more about Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport on their website.

As a part of Coastal USM, USM Gulf Park strives to ensure that coastal communities will be competitive and innovative for generations to come. For more information on the USM Gulf Park campus, you can visit their website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.