26 March 2024

The 'little something' that Stanwell Park beachgoers are loving

| Dione David
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Toddler stands in the Stanwell Park Beach Toy Library.

Stanwell Park people of all ages are thrilled by the addition of a toy library at their local beach, courtesy of fellow resident Steve Thompson. Photo: Daniel Saunders.

A generous act that has highlighted the “joys of living in small communities” has delighted the people of Stanwell Park.

In January, a resident posted a picture of a “toy library” on the Stanwell Park Community Forum on Facebook. The crisp white, wooden container, mounted on a pole and filled with beach toys came with simple instructions: BORROW, PLAY, RETURN.

“We should do this!” the post read.

About a month later, a new post picturing a similar white wooden box of excellent construction cropped up at Stanny Beach, and was quickly shared on the Facebook page.

“Someone suggested it and someone responded. Beautifully made and I’m sure the kids will love it! Thanks Thomo,” it read, tagging the man behind the construction of the Stanwell Beach Toy Library, resident Steve (Thomo) Thompson.

“I was inspired by a local lady on our Stanwell Park Facebook page,” he says.

“It seems toy libraries are popping up all over the country, and are such a simple initiative that brings joy to all that both see it and get to use it … Being retired, it was a no-brainer to whip this up from bits of scrap timber and a little bit of paint. It’s a pretty rough and ready piece.

“Such simple things are the joys of living in small communities. If everyone gets in and does a ‘little something’, it makes for a wonderful place to live. This toy library is nothing more than a ‘little something’.”

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The response from the community page was immediate and overwhelmingly positive.

“This is why Stanny is such a unique little village of fantastic people,” one post reads.

“So amazing!! Can’t wait to add a toy for the little ones to share,” another says.

“All the little ones of the community thank you … This made my heart beat seeing this at the beach … We are surrounded by beautiful thoughtful people that make this place even more special.”

Resident Daniel Saunders says it made him fall all the more in love with his neighbourhood.

“It was heartwarming to see one of the locals had gone to such an effort to make sure our kids have fun on the beach,” he says.

“It reaffirmed for us how lucky we are to live in the Stanny community; it’s a great place to raise a family.”

White painted toy box at a beach

Toy libraries are a wonderful way to promote a circular economy. Photo: Stanwell Park Community Forum Facebook.

It took Thomo – a former environmental manager – one or two hours to make, and he reckons the library has already delivered in spades (so to speak).

“The joy it brings to both kids and parents alike was well worth the effort,” he says.

“We have a three-year-old granddaughter and she just loves it to bits, picking a different toy every time she heads to the beach.

“There have been many toys that have disappeared, however they are mysteriously replaced by more … I suppose that’s just how a community library is supposed to work.”

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Thomo reckons the “borrow, play, return” model, which supports a circular economy approach to beach play, delivers value to the community beyond convenience.

“It seems to instil responsibility in the kids to look after and return what they have borrowed, which can’t be a bad thing,” he says.

“The icing on the cake for me personally was last week when an unknown lady approached me on the beach and told me that when her four-year-old son awoke one morning the previous week, the first words he uttered were that he wanted to go to the library. He then said, ‘You know, Mum – the toy library!’

“Yes, gotta love living in a small beachside community.”

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