Global Playground Inspires New Nonprofit That Combines Art with Charitable Giving

Sunday, October 25, 2009 | posted by Global Playground News |
From bringing hope to the lives of children in the genocide-ridden fields of Cambodia to an overwhelming feeling of goodwill, a long list of amazing things come from making a donation to Global Playground. To that list, Jennifer Rinker, the founder of Altruistic Trinkets, has added another: hand-crafted jewelry symbolizing the storied pasts of countries in which Global Playground operates.

After making jewelry for more than ten years as a hobby, Jennifer founded Altruistic Trinkets this year to encourage charitable giving. "I spend a considerable amount of time working on the pieces, sometimes as much as twenty hours on a given weekend, and until now simply gave the jewelry away to friends, family, and coworkers," said Jennifer. But now donors and their charities of choice are the beneficiaries of her creative talent. To receive one of her unique pieces or sets of jewelry, one simply has to provide her with evidence of a donation to a 501(c)(3) charity equaling the "giving amount" for that piece or set.

Although Jennifer honors donations to any charity, she strongly encourages support of Global Playground. "I chose Global Playground as my preferred charity because of the unique opportunities Global Playground offers not only to provide children in developing countries with critical educational resources, but also with ways to interact with Global Playground's network of schools through Internet connectivity and directed curricula." said Jennifer. "These cultural exchanges are vital in fostering a global community, and I want to do all I can to assist in those efforts."

Jennifer places special care and thought into crafting each piece of her jewelry or, as she describes it, "wearable art." This is particularly evident in the four collections she specifically designed with Global Playground in mind. Those collections attempt to not only capture the culture of the countries in which Global Playground operates, but also the rough and harsh aspect of the lives of the children whom Global Playground is helping.

Of those collections, her personal favorite is the "Khmer Rouge," a ring, bracelet, necklace, and earring set inspired by Global Playground's work in Cambodia. There the educational system was devastated by the destruction of schools and the genocide of teachers during the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. "I put a lot of time and thought into making this collection. To capture the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and the suffering experienced by the Cambodian people, this set is fashioned out of copper wire, olive pits with hand-carved wailing figures, and many natural stones of browns and reds, reflecting the bleeding across Cambodia's beautiful landscape," said Jennifer.

The "Khmer Rouge" collection

Jennifer--an accomplished archaeologist and lawyer--got involved in creating jewelry after attending a wholesale bead show in Houston with a co-worker. "It blew my mind to see the jaw-dropping variety of colors and material types, faceted corals, tourmalines, onyx, turquoise, pearls, and tables of gold, silver, pewter, and vermeil clasps and chains," said Jennifer. With a penchant for "doing crafty things and wanting to put prettiness into the world," which she attributes to her grandmother's influence, Jennifer could not resist transforming the beautiful beads into her own unique creations.

Jennifer recently showcased her "wearable art" at the annual Labor Day art show at Glen Echo Park in Maryland where she secured several donations for Global Playground. She is also marketing Altruistic Trinkets on Facebook where people can not only view her collections but also become "fans" of her efforts. To date, more than half of Altruistic Trinkets' "fans" are unknowns to Jennifer, suggesting that her efforts are gaining attention beyond her personal contacts.

Jennifer hopes to continue showcasing her creations at art shows and wishes for a big holiday season. More importantly, she hopes that her efforts will further Global Playground's work around the globe and in turn inspire even more Altruistic Trinkets.

-Doug Smith

To see a catalogue of Altruistic Trinkets' collections, click here or contact Jennifer directly at She also accepts custom orders.

"A World Beyond Classrooms" Launches in Stonington, Connecticut

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | posted by Jon Heifetz |
The future is now. Global Playground has officially launched its "A World Beyond Classrooms" initiative, which will revolutionize the way students from around the world learn about other cultures. The initiative has already caught fire at Stonington High School where nearly one hundred students, about one-eighth of the student body, are so actively engaged with Global Playground that NBC Connecticut recently featured them on the five o'clock news.

A World Beyond Classrooms involves students in international development projects, promotes teacher education and teacher training, and builds bridges among youth, explained Edward Branagan, Global Playground's Executive Director. Specifically, for a donation of $5000, a school in the United States can sponsor one of Global Playground's schools. Students will learn about other cultures and languages through their own firsthand experiences and those of their teacher whose travel to the sponsored school Global Playground will fund. As a participant in the initiative, SHS has pledged to raise $5000 for Global Playground's expected project in Honduras, a $45,000 technology center with eighteen computers in El Progreso.

A World Beyond Classrooms encapsulates what makes Global Playground unique. To be sure, calling on students to help raise funds for a nonprofit is certainly not new. But a World Beyond Classrooms "is not just about fundraising for a cause. It's truly about experiencing other cultures. It's all about opening students' eyes. It's beneficial for everyone when students are able to learn on both sides about each other," said Branagan. Once the technology center is built, students at SHS and in El Progreso will be able to communicate and share things with one another in real-time over the Internet. One can only imagine what they will discover.

SHS has already raised $1000 through cash donations and the sale of Global Playground t-shirts and flower lapel pins from Cambodia. Student-led efforts have included a car wash, two bake sales, and a "buy a brick" (for a dollar) campaign that pitted homerooms against each other. SHS students have also painted a mural about Global Playground at the school and collected donated soccer balls.

These efforts kicked off last April when Mrs. Lea Kennedy, a Spanish teacher, "discovered" Global Playground and its Teacher Toolkit at the 2009 Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Mrs. Kennedy immediately brought Global Playground back to her Spanish classes.

Mrs. Kennedy's Spanish classes have an "outreach" component, requiring her students to engage with Spanish-speaking people, and many of her students are using Global Playground to fulfill this component. "I'm giving them the opportunity to do some meaningful work within the class," says Mrs. Kennedy. The work has also eliminated traditional high school "barriers," uniting "academic superstars" with those at the bottom of their class, athletes and non-athletes, and students from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Upon learning about Global Playground, one of Mrs. Kennedy's students, Jackie Ingham, "just fell in love with the organization. That day, I went home and told my brother all about the organization; I showed him the Web site and must have gone through all the Global Playground photo albums at least twice," she said. Ingham then founded a Global Playground club at SHS to involve students other than those in Mrs. Kennedy's Spanish classes in supporting Project Honduras. Between Mrs. Kennedy's Spanish classes and the Global Playground club, about one hundred SHS students are now enthusiastically engaged with Global Playground. A few of Mrs. Kennedy's students who struggled with her Spanish 3 course even elected to take Spanish 4 because they enjoyed the class' involvement with Project Honduras.

Like many of SHS's students, Jackie Ingham believes that she is "making a difference outside of Stonington" and adds that that "is a great feeling." The students' next fundraiser will be a Latin-themed dance featuring songs in Spanish.