June 6, 2023

Alum Gives Back Through UMW Play Lab

H. Nicole Myers, left, coordinates the UMW Play Lab.

H. Nicole Myers, left, coordinates the UMW Play Lab.

Rob Eidson ‘01 spends his free time raising awareness and funds for people who have autism spectrum disorder.

When the University of Mary Washington graduate learned about the UMW Play Lab class, he combined his extracurricular activities with his alma mater.

Eidson works as a human resources director for Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., but in his free time the business major serves as a supervisory board member with the board of trustees for the Charitable Organization for Autism Spectrum Tech and Educational Research Studies or COASTERS. COASTERS mission is to raise awareness and funds for research into the aid and improvement of the lives of people who have autism spectrum disorders.

When Eidson read an article in UMW Magazine about the Play Lab, he knew this would the perfect venue to put the COASTERS mission to work.

Play Lab teaches College of Education and psychology students how to work with students with disabilities in real-world setting by pairing community children with UMW students for one semester.

“It is an authentic learning environment which allows UMW students to gain teaching experience and provide a much needed service to the community by providing educational activities to support children and train their parents in ways to help their child at home, school, and in the community,” said H. Nicole Frye Myers, associate professor of education and Play Lab coordinator.

Eidson’s organization is sponsoring the cost of two children to attend the Play Lab class in the fall with a $300 grant.

“Rob’s organization’s donation means a lot to the UMW Play Lab,” said Myers. “Not only will children get to go to Play Lab and receive assistance, their parents will receive training, and each of those teachers who participated in the class will be better equipped to teach children with disabilities. His gift is truly a gift that will keep on giving year after year in that future teacher’s classroom.”