Hi Everybody! T.K. here, and I'm here today to tell you about a great project filtering over from our friends across the pond. Ladies and Gentlemen, Toy Like Me!
Toy Like Me is a UK based coalition of parents, educators, and doctors fighting for the positive representation of disabled and "different" people as toys. Began as a one woman crusade by BBC journalist Rebecca Atkinson, Toy Like Me has begun a global revolution of calling for manufactures and independent artisans to make or create toys that represent people with this differences to teach children that it's not strange to be different.
Why, some may ask, is this important? Aren't they just toys? Yes, but toys make up a child's world. The imaginary world of children is the one that will shape how they will grow up, so it is very important that children have a chance to experience people that are different than they are, whether ethnically, ability-related, or simply different.
It's also important that children that are disabled or different than their peers have toys that reflect who they are. " To see yourself reflected by huge toy brands like Playmobil and Lego is about more than just a toy. It’s about these brands sending out a powerful message that everyone should be included and celebrated, not just able-bodied people. If we leave diff:ability out of the toy box what does that teach kids in real life? That it’s OK to exclude?" (toylikeme.org) Toys like this boost the self-esteem of children and help them understand that they are awesome just like they are. I know this from experience. When I got my glasses, though my self-image didn't ride on it, I would have loved to have a doll with glasses who wasn't Eliza Thornberry (sorry Eliza).
Now you know why Toy Like Me does what they do, now how do they do it? First off, they try to find existing toys that have glasses, a wheelchair, etc. and promote those to parents and educators who are looking for these types of toys, seen here. Next, they promote artisans who make the accessories to make existing toys into the "diff:abled" toys of dreams. These "bespoke" artisans are listed here.
Now, if you are excited as I was by this prospect, what can you do? You can order from one of the fine artisans listed above, or you can buy existing toys and donate them to schools and daycares, even give them to your own kids. If you live in the UK, you can donate to Toy Like Me through their Donate tab, so they can keep lobbying toy companies to make more of these kind of toys. You can also give them a "like" at their Facebook and keep up with all the action. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and soon you'll be looking for the next Toy Like Me!
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.