There are 150 million disabled children in the world, yet so few toys that represent them.
One campaigner thought this was wrong and decided to make a stand against the biggest global toy manufacturers and won.
#ToyLikeMe is the brainchild of Rebecca Atkinson, a journalist from London who started the campaign towards ending ‘cultural marginalisation’ and urged Lego and other toy manufacturers to better represent diverse backgrounds.
In April 2015, Rebecca, who is partially deaf and partially sighted, noticed the lack of representation in the toy industry.
She called on some fellow mothers and together they launched #ToyLikeMe to call on the global toy industry to start representing disabled children around the world.
They started a change.org petition calling on Lego to include disabled mini- figures and received over 20k signatures.
A similar one aimed at Playmobil received over 50k supporters and they responded by becoming the first global brand to back #ToyLikeMe and are working to produce a line of characters that positively represent disability for release in 2016/17.
The crowd funding page raised over £16,000 in a month and will be used to create a website that will be a resource for parents and carers to give them a one stop shop where they can find everything from cottage industries making bespoke plush teddies with hearing aids to listings of global toy brands with representative products.
After 9 months of lobbying, toy giants Lego unveiled their first wheelchair using mini-figure at Nurumberg Toy Fair last month.
The figure of a young man using a wheelchair and accompanied by an assistance dog is part of a new Fun in the Park set from Lego.
Rebecca says the move by Lego “will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over”.
“As someone who had grown up wearing hearing aids, I remembered firsthand how it felt to be a child who never saw themselves represented by the mainstream and what that can do to a child with a disability’s self esteem. I wanted to change this for generations to come and start to get global brands like Lego, Mattel and Playmobil to include representations of disability in their products.”
“If they present a little boy in a wheelchair in a fun park setting – like they have done with this new product – they are speaking a much bigger message than just a little figure.”
“It is a hugely powerful thing for children to see. I hope Lego have realised the wonderful thing they have done. I congratulate them and I hope this is a start of a lot of incidental representation of their product because the response online has been phenomenal.”