Independent Toy Awards shows retail’s support of inclusivity but “there’s still a lot to do”

Among an extensive list of winners of this year’s Independent Toy Awards – the annual Awards voted for by the UK’s indie toy retail scene – praise has been handed to an evolving industry for its better adoption of inclusivity within the toy box.

Comprising not only the usual industry names, stand out winners of Toy Shop UK’s 2019 initiative included the likes of Sequin Art and One Dear World, companies who have made it their mission to break down boundaries and barriers in representation today.

Only this past month, both companies detailed new product launches with the aim of offering representative options for consumers spanning cultural diversity, gender, and disability. It was Sequin Art’s Izzy Fairy craft kit that took Gold in the Awards’ special needs category, marking the arts and crafts sector’s first disability representative craft kit.

Developed in partnership with the not for profit arts and play organisation, Toy Like Me, the product line allows children to craft and construct a sparkly fairy pictured using an equally sparkly wheelchair.

It’s part of the Sequin Art Red range, a line named after the 10 year old Izzy, who uses a wheelchair and lives in Thetford, Norfolk, and inspiration for the forward-thinking range.

“We worked very closely with Toy Like Me when creating the Izzy Fairy design, their guidance and expertise was invaluable,” said Anita Rakauskaite, digital marketing coordinator at Sequin Art.

“It’s a truly great feeling to see that the nation’s independent retailers voted our wheelchair-using fairy design as the best in the special needs category. The positive feedback we have had indicates there is a real demand for toys that positively represent disability. We hope our success story will encourage more toy and especially craft manufacturers to join the toy box revolution.”

However, while the win for Sequin Art – and One Dear World who has been flying the flag for cultural diversity within the toy space for a number of years – comes as a vote of confidence in the movement from the UK’s network of independent toy retailers, there is still much to be done.

“We are delighted with the representation on the Independent Toy Awards winners list this year,” Rebecca Atkinson, founder of the Toy Like Me organisation told ToyNews. “It’s taken four years of hard work from Toy Like Me to raise the issue of the need for positive disability representation in the toy box, and now we are seeing more and more products coming through which have answered our campaign call.

“We are so pleased to endorsed products from Lottie and Sequin Art with our Toy Like Me stamp. There is still more to do though.

“I really hope wins like this one will encourage other brands to contact us to create more representative toys and change the attitudes of a whole generation through the magic of play.”

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