Have yourself an inclusive Christmas

ToyLikeMe’s Rebecca Atkinson reflects on why all children need to see disability represented in the toy box and reveals her five top inclusive Christmas stocking stuffers for 2015
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Children learn what we teach them and if we leave disability out of the toy box we send out a message of exclusion.

That kind of exclusion then sadly gets played out in playgrounds with children bullied or being excluded for their differences.

50 per cent of children with special needs get bullied at school.

But the toy industry can help. We can create a more inclusive play landscape for all children and help change attitudes in the process.

Toys have the cultural sway to really make a difference to the lives of 150 million children with disabilities worldwide.

So, when Playmobil includes representations of disability, it is creating more than just a toy. It is sending out a powerful message too. For a child with a disability, it’s affirming to see themselves reflected in the aisles of their favourite toys store. For children without disabilities, seeing a wheelchair or cochlear implant-wearing toy normalises human difference and helps them to create open minded attitudes when they meet someone with a disability.

#ToyLikeMe is less than a year old but we have already raised this debate in the toy industry and are delighted to have received such support.

We have followers in over 45 countries and are contacted by parents, teachers and carers looking for representative toys every day.

For 2016, we hope to see more brands joining the #ToyLikeMe revolution. Here are our top festive picks featuring positive disability representation:

Makies Dolls: You can now get #ToyLikeMe endorsed accessories like hearing aids, cochlear implants, diabetic lines, white canes and glasses.

Giant Road Jigsaw: Orchard Toys delivers toy box diversity at its best. The puzzle features three characters with disabilities.

Monster High Finnegan Wake doll: There’s not a stereotype in sight here. A favourite for 2015.

Weesie Pals: Cuddly critters with a range of inclusive accessories. Lottie Dolls: Super-cute dolls based on a girl’s average dimensions.

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Rise to the Toy Like Me challenge

Rebecca Atkinson, co-founder of the Toy Like Me campaign, explains why the toy industry needs to wise up and start including positive representations of disability in their products.

#ToyLikeMe's Rebecca Atkinson on a big year ahead for disability representation in toys

The #ToyLikeMe campaign launched last year calling for better disability representation in toys. Since then, firms like Playmobil, Makie and Orchard Toys have all come on board, and high profile names like comic Stephen Merchant have also pledged support. Billy Langsworthy talks to campaign founder Rebecca Atkinson about her plans to boost the project this year, including new partners and a tie-in TV series.

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