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Released October 12, 2005


Hattiesburg– The Institute for Disability Studies at The University of Southern Mississippi and the Hattiesburg Mayor’s Council for Early Learning Opportunities proudly announce the opening of the Families First and Early Learning Opportunities Center at 622 Corinne St. in Hattiesburg. The goal of the center is to boost community pride and empower families to ensure that the children of Hattiesburg have a healthy start and access to early learning opportunities. The center will promote early childhood literacy, school readiness, positive parenting and school success for children and youth.

The center provides parent training sessions to promote positive parenting with some sessions devoted just to fathers; developmental assessments; developmental appropriate toys for checkout, including adapted toys for children with disabilities; materials for parents to check out; after-school tutoring for the children of Hattiesburg; and parent-child play groups. The services provided ultimately prepare children for school and life.

The center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with some evening hours until 7 p.m. for tutoring and parenting sessions. There are no charges for the services provided at the center.

During the week of Oct. 24, there will be several events to mark the opening of the center. On Monday, Oct. 24 at 10 a.m., there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Johnny DuPree and Dr. Jane Siders, director of the Institute for Disability Studies. On Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., developmental screenings will be offered for children between the ages of birth and 5 years. On Friday, Oct. 28, After-School Snack time is set from 2:30 until 5 p.m. Parents and children are invited to come and see what is available at the center and to enjoy a healthy after-school snack.

The center is sponsored by two projects (Families First and Project S.E.E.D.) of the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) at The University of Southern Mississippi. Families First is funded by the Mississippi State Department of Human Services (Grant # 525D341). Project S.E.E.D., a collaborative initiative between the Hattiesburg Mayor’s Council for Early Learning Opportunities and IDS, is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children and Families (Grant # 90L00134/01). For more information, visit IDS on the Web at, or call the center at (601) 583-2795.



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October 14, 2005 2:54 PM