About Us

Mission Statement

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

2016 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.

Mike Mazza– Vice President  – Sole Proprietor of The Shore Chef. Customer Service Representative with Island Expertees, Nags Head, NC. A.A. from The Art Institute of Atlanta and Gainesville College in Georgia, and B.S. from North Carolina Wesleyan College.

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.

Museum History

In 2009 we began by traveling to different host locations and holding free “play sessions” using donated goods and cardboard boxes. Today we are 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 and was proud to have a permanent home. 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 14″ of water. Everything the community had come together to create had been destroyed. The Museum was forced to close for the months of November and December 2012.

Thanks to the support and generosity of Harvey Hess, Sr., owner of Buccaneer’s Walk Shopping Center, the Museum was able to relocate in January of 2013 to our current location at 3810 N. Croatan Highway. Significantly larger than our first space, we quickly grew to love our current location in the Buccaneer’s Walk Shopping Center on the west side of N. Croatan Highway. The Museum was able to get back up and running due to the generosity and commitment of the Outer Banks community as well as supporters across the country that donated their resources, time and money. Boat Docs of Manteo, Surf Pediatrics and Medicine and The Outer Banks Hospital were instrumental in funding and creating new exhibits for the museum during this time of transition and they gratefully remain our largest supporters today. Closed only for a total of two months after the hurricane’s damage, the Museum quickly became known as “The Little Museum That Could”.

For younger children, we focus on fine and gross motor development and language development and vocabulary development. Social and emotional development for all children. We are dedicated to creating family memories through educational play for all that come through our doors. Although smaller in size than some other Children’s Museums in larger cities, we make a big impact!

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.

The Museum strives to make admission affordable and accessible to all children and families. A limited number of free income qualifying memberships are available throughout the year due to a generous grant from PNC Grow Up Great. Please contact the museum for more information. Children at Play, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Children’s Museum.