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Carnival on the Quad at Mississippi College Blesses Special Needs Children and Adults

by Chase Richardson

Special needs children and adults from Central Mississippi laughed, enjoyed the train rides and treasured their visit to Mississippi College’s Carnival on the Quad.

But this fall’s event on the Clinton campus was just as meaningful to scores of MC students, faculty and staff volunteers making the carnival a success.

Since the first Carnival of the Quad originated in 2010 thanks to the work of psychology professor Rob Ward and his students, the annual event continues to grow.

For a few hours on October 18, special needs people from metro Jackson communities were embraced the moment they departed their buses on the Clinton campus.

“Walking up to the carnival this year warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes,” said Mississippi College law student Ann Regan Bilbo.

Seeing the festive balloons, watching dozens of kids bouncing up and down, and hearing the squeals of excited guests was enough to make her day. “Each year, there are more activities, more guests and more volunteers,” says Bilbo, whose visionary dreams got the first carnival launched as an Mississippi College undergraduate.

Whether the visitors traveled from Yazoo County, Canton, Clinton, Vicksburg, Jackson or other communities in the region, MC students were delighted to play a role in the carnival and make new friends.

“It really brings everyone on campus together to serve others,” says psychology major Kathryn Reed, 20, of Fultondale, Alabama. Kathryn grew up working with special needs adults. “I love having the opportunity to work with special friends of all ages here at MC.”

A psychology major from Madison, Anna Shows, 20, relished her role volunteering at the registration table as sunshine blanketed the Quad. “I was able to see all of their excited faces when they saw all the balloons and fun activities,” she said. “It was a blessing to watch them play and interact with other kids.”

Mississippi College student Allison Boyd, 21, of Brookhaven handled the task of overseeing volunteers. The psychology major loved the assignment leading up to Friday morning’s activities and stayed with it until the last bus departed from the Christian university.

“The whole morning was filled with smiling faces and willing and helping hands,” Allison said. She was amazed to see how many people wanted to help make this such a memorable day.

Admissions staffer Stacie Jones stayed busy working on stained glass necklaces with the visitors Friday morning. “It went over big,” she said. “The carnival was wonderful.”

After it was over, Ward sent emails thanking students, faculty and staff for making this year’s carnival such a hit once again. “Your work behind the scenes, is appreciated,” Ward wrote.

Whether they were Physical Plant Office workers moving tables and chairs, or faithful volunteers from student organizations and university departments, he applauded everybody lending a hand to welcome Mississippi’s special needs community.