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How Toy Makers Are Helping Children with Disabilities

March 3, 2016

A great change is taking place in the toy world. No, they aren’t making them any less painful to step on, but the successes of the “Toy Like Me” campaign concluded in early February when toymaker giant Lego unveiled a new figurine at the 67th Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nuremburg. Part of a “Fun in the Park” set going on sale in June this year, he wears a beanie and a smile – and he’s in a wheelchair.

Toy Like Me spearhead and founder Rebecca Atkinson, along with the campaign’s supporters, jumped for joy at the unveiling. Starting just last year, Atkinson launched the campaign because as a child, she never saw any toys that represented her; with two hearing aids and partial blindness. She wanted toy makers to acknowledge the 150 million children worldwide who had disabilities, and make toys to suit them. Why? So they can see themselves reflected positively, and know that they are just like everyone else.

Lego figurine in wheelchair

“Imagine a world where a kid's first exposure to a child in a wheelchair or a child who is missing limbs is a non-event because they've been playing with toys with similar differences from the beginning. That sounds like a great world to me.”  - Upworthy

A 50,000 strong petition also got the attention of Playmobil, who is working with Atkinson to create a line of characters with disabilities to be released in 2017. British toymaker Makies have also started producing dolls that have walking aids, birthmarks and hearing aids, with more to come. Toy Like Me supporters have used social media to show their own modified toys to help spread the word, just like Anja Busse, who created a video and petition two years ago to urge toymaker American Girl to add an accessory to some of its dolls.

Late in 2015 they announced that they had created a Diabetes kit addition – including an insulin pump, blood sugar monitor, medic alert bracelet and more. This isn’t the first time American Girl has made these type of changes, also selling accessories like hearing aids and crutches, plus making bald dolls for kids going though chemotherapy or having conditions like alopecia.

What about New Zealand children?

Statistics NZ reveals 11% of kiwi kids have some form of disability – which is a significant number when you consider children (0-14 years) make up almost quarter of our population. If children are actively playing with a diverse range of toys and characters, they’ll soon learn that disabilities are a normal part of society, and that people with disabilities should not be left out, overlooked or ostracised.

As a mobility support company, we are all for these fundamental shifts in thinking and toy manufacturing. We are lucky to work with the clientele we do, including a number of wonderful kids. Maybe we could get into the business of making Lego mobility lifts!

On a more serious note, having access to mobility solutions is an important requirement for children with less mobility, especially at school and in the community. Our commercial and residential lifts are low cost, non-intrusive, subtle solutions that provide safety and reliability for anyone that uses them. In a school setting, a lift is not only a beneficial addition, but gives the opportunity to teach children that they are a normal part of life. Contact us today to find out how we can help your child at school, home or in the community.


Lego wheelchair toy, Google

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Filed under Quality of Life \ Residential lifts

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