A Unique Gift to Youth Services

The Blackstone Library is thrilled to receive a unique gift to our Children’s play area. Library Trustee Michelle Blank and her husband, Fred Jackson, designed and built this custom activity/train table.

The concept/design sketch

After learning about the need for a new train table (the old one having been very well-loved over the years), and hearing about how kids use the table (in addition to creating worlds on top of the table, they love to crawl under it!), they came up with this design, sketching ideas out to ensure it would fit the space.

The tunnel was inspired by the Robin Williams Rainbow Tunnel in California, and offers a colorful, welcoming space for children to play. The wood was hand-carved, hand-painted, and finished to create a smooth, sturdy place for children to play around. The top of the table is a plexiglass sheet laid across an image taken from photo of a section of the mural in the Children’s play area. It is colorful and evocative of water, grass, trees and rocks, but leaves enough to the imagination so children have space to fully create their own stories as they play.

Michelle and Fred also donated the storage bins and a huge set of wooden blocks for when kids are done with trains and want to build something else. The Friends of the Library sponsored new train and track sets.

We are so incredibly lucky to have such talented creators with such close ties to the library, who are so willing to give their time and expertise to create such a wonderful table, and such a generous Friends group to help enrich the play area for the community.

A message from the creators:

We are so thrilled to gift this labor of love to the Children’s department. First and foremost, our inspiration for the Blackstone Library “fun-nel” (what we affectionately call the custom, one-of-a-kind train and activity table we built) is our shared joy of nurturing children’s creativity through fun, imaginative play. Director Katy McNicol, told us that the kids loved to crawl under the old table, so of course, we designed an under-table-tunnel (no grown-ups allowed in the fun-nel).

Our idea to use a rainbow motif comes from the Robin Williams Tunnel in Sausalito, California. The comedy of Robin Williams brought laughter and joy to millions. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s impossible not to smile as you approach the tunnel and remember Robin Williams’ incredible voices, characters, and those iconic rainbow suspenders he wore as the loveable alien Mork, on Mork and Mindy. It is our hope that our Rainbow Tunnel Train and Activity Table will bring hours of joyful playtime and laughter to Blackstone’s youngest patrons.

Just as we drew inspiration from Robin Williams for the tunnel design, we want to thank artists Brooke Sheldon and Lena Fransioli for the beautiful custom wall mural they designed for the Children’s Library. The mural is whimsical and timeless and creates such a happy vibe. We wanted to carry over that energy to the table, so we choose one area of the mural to print for the tabletop.

Albert Einstein says “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” It is with such pleasure that we donate the Blackstone Library Tunnel train and activity table to the children of our beloved community. May they enjoy hours of fun letting their imaginations run wild.

– Trustee Michelle Blank, Ph.D. and husband, Fred Jackson, Co-Founder and President of SMD Sensors

The Blackstone Library is grateful to Fred and Michelle for creating this wonderful new activity table, and to the Friends for their continued support of the Library.
Thank you!