AwesomeStPaul is proud to announce our May 2023 grant winner. Brik Share will create a lending library of Legos at the Arlington Hills branch of the Saint Paul Public Library. We are thrilled to support our winner, Bora Mandic, a sophomore at St. Paul Academy. His project will provide access to learning tools for children of all ages through the public library system. Congratulations!

In his own words, Bora describes his project in more detail..

"An article by The National Center for Biotechnology Information explained that educational toys help children’s cognitive development and also help them develop emotional skills like increased empathy, a stronger imagination, and better social skills. However, these educational toys can be very expensive and are ultimately inaccessible to many children. One such educational toy that I have a personal connection to is Lego. When I was younger, I was lucky to have access to Legos. From my first set when I was three years old to my life now as a sixteen-year-old, Legos have always been a way for me to express myself and my creativity. I want to make it possible for all kids to have the same amazing experiences I had. My idea is to implement Lego sets in public libraries in Saint Paul where kids can borrow and return Lego sets just like books. Not only would providing sharable Legos at the library would give all local children access to engaging, physical toys, but it would also encourage youth to visit their local libraries and read. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the number of in-person visits to libraries in the US per 100 people has declined by 24% from 2009 to 2018, and this is ignoring the impact COVID-19 has caused. I have been connecting with my local library in Saint Paul, and a mentor is helping me further develop the idea and identify pilot sites. I am currently working on building a website for the project, as well as applying for funding to get the project started. One question I consistently receive for my project is, “Why Legos?” Unlike many educational toys, Legos give children their own choice of what they want to do. They can either build the set the instructions provide or use their imagination and create whatever they want, making Legos the perfect toy to share!"

Funded by St. Paul, MN (May 2023)