We all want to see ourselves represented in our environment, and this is even more true for children. In the world of children’s toys, there has been an increased effort to represent a more diverse group of children in regard to race and even body type, but representing children with disabilities has been much slower to happen.
This gap in toys led journalist and creativity consultant Rebecca Atkinson to start a movement called #ToyLikeMe. Atkinson is leading a campaign to help connect families with children with disabilities to products, services and information that support and celebrate children’s unique abilities. The goal of the campaign is also to keep pushing toy companies to create more diverse toys.
The campaign has been hugely popular, and already there is support from a number of companies and children’s advocates, including Playmobil and smaller toy manufacturers, Makie and Weesie Pals. Examples of toys being made are Makie’s dolls, some of whom wear hearing aids, have canes, or have birthmarks.
Most recently, Lego announced a new minifigure, “a new figure of a young boy in a zip-sweatshirt, beanie, and wheelchair.” Previously, Lego did feature a figure in a wheelchair, but the character was an old man, which only reinforced the stereotype of wheelchairs being only for older people. Another new Lego figure is a service dog.
Another toy company to get the right idea is Hasbro, which has come up with a Mr. Potato Head with a cochlear implant.