Marisa Rafal – The New Hampshire Toy Library Network
Adapted play material for children with disabilities can be two to four times the cost of the original item, while 80% of plastic toys end up in our oceans, landfills, and incinerators. Meanwhile, many New Hampshire college students are looking both to give back to their communities and to get professional networking experience, while the state itself is trying hard to keep young professionals in the area after graduation. With all of this in mind, the NH Toy Library Network aims to support children’s equitable access to toys and games, decrease waste and conserve natural resources, lessen siloing between college and community, reduce stigma, and foster fun! We endeavor to do this by allowing college students to run a network of toy libraries across the state – all for local children and families, regardless of income or ability level.
These toy libraries offer toy loans at no cost to the individual, the same way other libraries offer books, and although we have a special emphasis on accessibility and adapted toys, we believe in inclusion and the power of play to bridge divides, so we accept conventional items as well. We want everyone to be able to play with and learn from one another. We also hope that for college students, the opportunity to run a business in the Granite State will connect them to the NH community, and regardless of where they choose to be post-grad, they can gain professional confidence and workplace skillsets right here with the NH Toy Library Network.
The Pollination Project grant will allow us to expand our collection, with a particular emphasis on kits to support children’s academic growth and understanding of diversity. We are so grateful to everyone at The Pollination Project, and of course to the faculty and staff at the University of New Hampshire & NHTI-Concord’s Community College who have believed in this student-team’s dream every step of the way.