At Lottie Dolls, our business is built on the belief that the representation of diversity in the toy-box matters.
“We are all different,” points out our founder Ian Harkin. “The power of relatability is immense but normalising difference - by every kid having the possibility of a diverse toy-box - is our goal.”
And so we couldn’t have been more delighted when #ToyLikeMe – an organisation with whom we work super-closely – was given a Points of Light award on Christmas Day.
Points of Light are outstanding individuals whose voluntary work makes a change in their community. Established in 1990 by then-president George H. W. Bush, more than 6,000 Points of Light have been recognised in the USA. A UK programme was launched in 2014. And now, every weekday, the British Prime Minister recognises volunteers – working on initiatives ranging from tackling knife crime to supporting the families of people with dementia - with the inspirational award.
Rebecca Atkinson launched #ToyLikeMe to encourage the global toy industry to better represent children who have a disability. Rebecca – who is partially deaf and partially sighted herself - began by making-over kids’ toys to give them disabilities and sharing the photos online. The campaign went viral. And in September 2017, after collaborating with Rebecca and the #ToyLikeMe campaign, we launched Mia: the world’s first mainstream doll with a cochlear implant.
“The success of your #ToyLikeMe campaign is testament to your remarkable vision to represent disabilities and difference in toys,” said Prime Minister Theresa May in a personal letter to Rebecca.
“At a special time like Christmas, you should feel very proud that the toys your campaign has inspired will be received by children up and down the country, promoting a positive image of difference to all who receive them.”
There’s a ripple-effect of positive benefits from having access to a diverse toy-box, too.Psychologist Dr Sian Jones – of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh – has studied the effects of playing with toys with disability and difference on the attitudes of children without disability and difference. Interviewing hundreds of children, she found that after playing with toys that reflect diverse abilities, children without disabilities were more open to forming friendships with peers with disability and difference.
Now, that’s what we call a win-win for parents who want to know how to raise kids well!