For kids with disability, growing up being the only one in your class to rock hearing aids or roll on wheels, and rarely seeing anyone like you positively reflected in toys, books, TV, films can lead to a sense of isolation and low self esteem.
Positive representation matters. 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 disability out of the toy box what does that teach kids in real life? That it’s OK to exclude?
However, #ToyLikeMe doesn’t advocate that toy companies should make disabled toys for disabled children per se. We believe ALL children will benefit from incidental disability being positively included in toys. Let’s normalise disability for what it really is, part of the natural spectrum of human life.
“Academic research by Dr. Sian Jones at Queen Margaret’s has found that after playing with disabled toys for just 3 minutes, children develop a more positive friendship attitude towards their peers with disabilities.”
It’s time to stop stereotyping disability as synonymous with hospitals or grandparents and think outside the toy box, freshen up a bit! Nearly every toy wheelchair we have ever found has been part of a hospital set, every glasses-wearing toy has been a geek or a nerd, every patch-wearer, a pirate. Where are the wizards with wheelchairs? Fairies with guide dogs? Princesses with diabetic lines?
Global toy brands have the cultural sway to educate by stealth and change attitudes. It’s win, win happy-making stuff all round!