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Mississippi College

Awesome Experience for Special Needs Children and Adults at Carnival on the Quad

October 19, 2012

Pumpkin painting, miniature train rides, bowling, and balloons greeted special needs children and adults visiting Mississippi College on Friday.

Amid crisp fall weather, it was a perfect recipe for fun at MC’s Carnival on the Quad. An idea originating in professor Rob Ward’s psychology class in 2010, the third annual event is receiving growing support from departments all over the Clinton campus.

Eleven visitors, from ten-year-olds to 36-year-olds, traveled from the Jacobs Ladder Learning Center in Vicksburg and received a warm welcome the minute they left their van.

“Bowling was the most fun, but they also love the slide,” says Jasmine Free, the Jacobs Ladder director before driving the van back to Warren County. “They had a great time.”

So did Professor Ward, his colleagues and Mississippi College students all morning long.

In the fall of 2010, the first Carnival on the Quad attracted 60 special needs children and visitors. Last year’s crowd at least doubled that, and this year’s delegation of visitors topped those numbers.

“It is very cool,” said MC student Hannah Sexton of Senatobia as she worked the fishing booth with classmate Cali Forman of Raymond. “It’s nice for MC to hold this.”

A 2011 Mississippi College graduate, Ann Reagan Bilbo of McComb first conceived the event as a class project for extra credit in Ward’s psychology class. The Mississippi College law student returned to the Clinton campus to see how it’s evolved and was impressed. “This brings everyone together,” she said before returning to law school in Jackson to take a mid-term exam.

Ward thanked the growing list of departments that helped as sponsors, including kinesiology, psychology and counseling, teacher education and leadership, the student counseling center, and the registrar’s office. Businesses in the Jackson area also pitched in to help.

Among the groups sending visitors for the first time was the Willowood Development Center group home in Pearl. A Willowood staff member, Amber Severn noticed lots of smiles on the faces of her delegation at the Carnival on the Quad.

“It was an honor to be able to participate,” said Desmeon Thomas, a staff member with the Jackson office of the non-profit Living Independence for Everyone of Mississippi. “This was my first time to come to this event, and I enjoyed it.”

Thomas and his friend Robert Estes, an Americorps program staffer in Jackson, both moved around the Quad in wheelchairs. They’ve been unable to walk after serious injuries suffered in automobile accidents more than a decade ago. Following an invitation from Dr. Ward, they took part in the Carnival on the Quad to promote awareness about the needs of disabled Mississippians.

For more information, contact Rob Ward, an MC psychology professor and associate director of student counseling services, at 601.925.3355 or rward@mc.edu.

Photo: Amy Hillman, a staff member with the MC registrar's office, helps a young girl with pumpkin painting at the 2012 Carnival on the Quad.