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USM’s Children’s Center Awarded 2023 Torchbearer by MS Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

Mon, 11/27/2023 - 08:57am | By: Courtney Tesh


Each year, the Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities holds a Torchbearers Awards Ceremony, honoring a small slate of individuals and organizations who have carried the torch to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) was among this year’s Torchbearers Award recipients and the award was presented to Director Sarah Myers by former Children’s Center staffer, Jayne Buttross.

“When I retired from The Children’s Center at USM, I was asked to do an exit survey,” Buttross said. “This is part of my answer to one of the questions. ‘For decades, I have been privileged to watch as consummate professionals quietly went about their work to make real and lasting impressions on young children with disabilities. People who excel at their craft without arrogance but with confidence, and who support one another, are not all that common.’”

For Buttross, presenting The Children’s Center award was meaningful on a personal level. Her sister, Margaret led the Center for more than 30 years and she, herself, not only worked with the Center but was on their advisory board for 23 years. To say she has intimate, first-hand knowledge of the impact of the organization’s work is an understatement.

“It meant so much to not only be named a 2023 Torchbearer, but to have the award presented by Jayne,” said Sarah Myers, current Director at The Children’s Center. “We’re so honored to be recognized alongside others doing incredible work in our state, and by the Coalition, who have themselves been carrying the torch for individuals with disabilities for decades. As we close in on 50 years of service for children ages birth to 5 with disabilities and their families, we can think of no better way to commemorate the milestone than with this high honor, presented by such a dear friend of The Children’s Center.”

Buttross spoke to the significant milestone as well, “As The Children’s Center finishes its fifth decade of excellence, under its current director, Sarah Myers, the staff maintains an unwavering commitment to the highest standards of professional and personal ethics, standards that have guided The Children’s Center’s work and that have changed thousands of lives.”

As she presented the Center with its award, she found that a phrase her sister once used to describe Center supporters perfectly summed up the impact staff has on individuals with disabilities in the State of Mississippi. “Margaret used to thank supporters and donors by saying ‘Because of you, our garden grows, our children bloom.’ And tonight, to the staff and leadership of The Children’s Center, we say, ‘Because of you, our garden grows, our children bloom.’”

About The Children’s Center for Communication and Development

The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at The University of Southern Mississippi is a non-profit that provides cost-free communicative and developmental transdisciplinary services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while educating, training, and supporting families, university students and professionals. 

About The Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

The Coalition, founded in 1989, is a nonprofit state-wide cross-disability organization comprised of people with disabilities, family members, professionals, and advocates.  The Coalition works collaboratively to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life for Mississippians with disabilities and to empower them to reach their full potential in all aspects of their lives. The Coalition’s mantra is, “Opening Doors Together.”  For more information call 601-969-0601.