About Us


Children at Play Inc. was founded as a non-profit charitable organization in 2008.  The Outer Bank’s only Children’s Museum was founded by a local group of parents that felt that their young children needed an indoor space to learn and grow, especially in the winter months.  The museum also entertained visitors and their young children all year round.  The museum has boasted many programs over the years such as free memberships to low income families, programs working with adults with special needs, children with special needs and other underserved populations.  The museum also hosted programs such as Science Thursdays, Halloween Spooktacular, Santa and the Train, Mardi Gras Gala, Sensory Santa, Movies on the Sound, Music Mondays, NC Science Festival – Egg Drop and other great events.  The museum was a tremendous asset to the Outer Banks Community and its presence will be missed.

This year will be the last year the museum is open for business.  With heavy hearts, the organizations founder and the board of directors have come to the decision to dissolve the children’s museum.  This decision was not made easily or lightly, however the board of directors feels it was time for the museum to close.

Historical information will be kept on the children’s museum in hopes that if any community member hoped to open a children’s museum in the future, the board would be willing and excited to pass information along.

Children at Play Inc. would like to thank the Outer Banks Community for the outpouring of support over the past decade and thank each and every business, individual and member that has helped over the years.

  • “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children, play is serious learning.” – Fred Rogers

Mission Statement

To provide interactive play opportunities that challenge children and families to learn and grow together.

In the museum

Programs the museum offers:

  • Free Play – Daily; encourages children’s natural curiosity, imagination and play, assisting in strengthening their emotional, social and physical development.
  • Arts & Crafts – Art projects and/or crafts each week out for children to make while in the museum
  • Science Thursdays – A science concept is taught each Thursday to children in the museum.  Often involves guest speakers from the community.

Impact on Dare & Currituck Counties:

  • Community Connections: In 2011 the museum received the Ribbon of Hope Grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, followed by two consecutive grants from the PNC Grow up Great Foundation to fund this program.  It provides free memberships for families in Dare and Currituck Counties who qualify as low – income and/or at risk through the Department of Social Services and other agencies that work with these families.
  • Traveling Exhibit: Used to bring science concepts to community events and local elementary schools.
  • Free admission for the Department of Social Services in Dare and Currituck Counties, which gives Social Workers the opportunity to bring children and families into the museum at no cost.
  • Free use of the museum for the Parents as Teachers program through the Children and Youth Partnership of Dare County.
  • Tuesdays Together Program: which brings adults with mild intellectual disabilities into the museum to work with young children to complete an art project.
  • Integration of Teenagers into the museum as teen volunteers and mentors to young children

2018 Board of Directors


Alyssa Hannon – President – B.A. from UNC-W in Physical Education with a minor in Psychology. Alyssa is currently a special education teacher at First Flight Middle School. Alyssa has five years teaching experience in Currituck County Public Schools. She also has three years’ experience as a family home preschool lead teacher. She has served as a Board member of the Children and Youth Partnership of Dare County. Alyssa is the founder of the Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum. Alyssa is married and is the mother of two boys.

Jody Sloan – Secretary – Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner. Previously, worked as a Clinical Coordinator of a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Asthma education Program in Western NC for 18 years. Jody is certified in Smoking Cessation through ALA. Work experience covers ages birth through seniors. Currently a stay at home mom.

Areca Oliff – Treasurer – Areca is currently the Branch Manager for the Southern Shores location of TowneBank.  She has 14 years of banking experience in consumer, small business, and commercial lending.  Areca has a B.A. in Management from JMU with a minor in Psychology.  An Outer Banks resident since 2007,  Areca also has served as an Ambassador in the Currituck County and Outer Banks Chambers of Commerce.

Committee Members:

Lori Howell-Clark – Lori is the General Sales Manager at East Carolina Radio. She has been with the radio station for 4 years. She has a son Jake, and her favorite hobby is riding horses on the beach.

James Eaton  Completed studies from New York Maritime Academy with a degree in Navel Architecture. Work experience includes 7 years with Newport News Shipyard, 7 years with Oceaneering and working with Special Operation Forces. Volunteering with youth teaching sailing. In 2014 he became the proprietor of Just for the Beach Rentals on the Outer Banks. He has two boys and he and his family live in Southern Shores.

Joe Gaca – B.A. from the State University of New York at Geneseo in elementary and special education with a minor in computer science and mathematics and a Master’s Degree in school administration. Four years teaching elementary special education and four years as an administrator in the Alamance-Burlington School System. Eight years working for Kellogg in various positions and currently serving as the CEO. Joe is married and has two daughters.

Sara Sampson – B.A. in Child & Youth Education from Malmo University, Sweden. 20 years of experience working with young children & families. Family Support Manager at Children at Youth Partnership for Dare County since 2005. Certified parent educator through Parents as Teachers. Member of the Local Interagency Coordinating Council and Parenting Enrichment Program which offers workshops for parents and professionals in Dare County. Mother of two children.

Jennifer Schwartzenberg – B.A. in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University. Jennifer serves as the Director of Community Outreach and Development at The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head. Jennifer is married and has one daughter.

Rebecca Shealey – B.A. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Longwood University, and a MA (M. S.) in Speech-Language Pathology from UNC-Chapel Hill. She currently works as a speech pathologist at Kitty Hawk Elementary School. She has eleven years’ experience working with children Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade and seven years’ experience working with children birth to three, doing early intervention as a speech-language pathologist. She is the Secretary and Board Member of Surfing for Autism, Inc. Rebecca is married and has two daughters.

Leanne Cargill originally from Chesapeake, Virginia. Lived on the Outer Banks for 17 years. Work history as a pharmaceutical rep, both property and retail management, and interior design. Former employee of the Children at Play Children’s Museum. Currently a full-time student at COA, graduating this semester with Associates of Arts, with plans to continue my education in business and interior design. Leanne is married and mother of 3.  Kill Devil Hills, NC

Museum History

In 2009 the museum began when the founder and her children traveled to different host locations and held free “play sessions” using donated goods and cardboard boxes. Today the museum is a well established Children’s Museum, a Member of the Dare County Chamber of Commerce and a valued educational resource for North Eastern North Carolina

Our History

The Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum was incorporated in 2007 by a group of parents. They invested in the idea that the Outer Banks community needed a new place for young children to explore, play and learn. The Museum formed a Board of Directors and became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in December 2009.

On August 10, 2010 the Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum opened for business at 3809 N. Croatan Highway, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in a small storefront property. The Museum continued to expand it’s services to the community and gain members.

On October 29th, 2012, the Museum was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The Museum was flooded, leaving every exhibit submersed under 24″ of water. The museum closed from October 2012 – January 2013.

The Museum was able to relocate in January of 2013 to the current location at 3810 N. Croatan Highway. The Museum, due to the generosity and commitment of the Outer Banks community and the hard work of a dedicated board of directors, reopened.

The Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum has a dedicated Board of Directors who are committed to the mission and expanding the way we serve children and families.

Children at Play, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Children’s Museum.