The team behind the international ToyLikeMe movement to bring inclusivity into kids’ toy boxes is celebrating major win following Mattel’s introduction of a wheelchair using doll and prosthetic limb Barbie.
In making the introduction, Mattel has become the latest brand to answer the campaign call of journalist Rebecca Atkinson and play consultant Karen Newell who together established the ToyLikeMe campaign in 2015.
The campaign emerged when Atkinson began making over mainstream toys to give them disabilities and posting images online. These images quickly went viral. The ToyLikeMe campaign went on to call for toy box representation for 150 million disabled children worldwide after the pair noticed the lack of representation of disability in toys.
Today there are 770,000 children with what the pair have termed diff:abilities here in the UK. Through their efforts, the ToyLikeMe campaign has influenced change among brands including Lottie Dolls, Playmobil and Hot Wheelz.
A change.org petition calling on LEGO to include disabled minifigures received of 20,000 signatures. A similar petition levelled at Playmobil received over 50,000.
Mattel’s Barbie has become the latest in a line of iconic toy brands to listen to the call for inclusivity.
“We are turning triple dipple somersaulty backflips of happiness to see these products from a huge brand like Barbie,” said Atkinson.
“This is huge news for 150 million disabled children worldwide who need positive toy box representation. But it should also be noted that toys like these have the power to grow open minds in non-disabled children, too.”
ToyLikeMe works closely with Dr Sian Jones from the University of Edinburgh, who has found that playing with disabled toys affect the friendship intentions of non-disabled children.
After playing with a wheelchair using doll for just three minutes, non-disabled children are more likely to make friends with a disabled child when they meet one in real life, according to the research.