When it comes to toys, representation can mean the world to a child. That’s why Nickolay Lamm developed a new doll accessory that is already brightening kids’ playtime experiences.
Lamm, who is known for his inclusive Lammily dolls (aka “Normal Barbie”), created a new wheelchair accessory for fashion dolls. The wheelchair has adjustable leg rests and fits Lammily dolls, as well as others like Barbie, Monster High and Disney Princess dolls.
“I feel that the more representative toys are of the real world around us, the better chance we stand at creating a healthier, more down-to-earth perception for youth,” Lamm told The Huffington Post.
“If a child with physical disabilities could see a fashion doll rolling around in her own wheelchair ― if kids classified as mobility-disabled by the world could be exposed early on to this sort of positive imagery associated with ableism ― then maybe we could shake some of the stigma that surrounds disability and being in a wheelchair,” he added.
Lamm says his new wheelchair accessory is a big development in the world of fashion dolls.
Though Barbie released a doll in a wheelchair named “Share A Smile Becky” in 1997, the product was eventually discontinued due to design issues.
Lamm believes his version of the accessory is much-needed today.
“If a wheelchair accessory were as commonplace as a dress in the doll aisle, it would be a huge step in helping physically disabled kids feel more empowered in a stigmatized society that often overlooks disability,” he said. “Moreover, it could educate non-disabled children about their peers, and promote open discourse and learning.”
Though Lamm has created a prototype for his doll wheelchair, he’s raising money on Kickstarter to mass-produce the accessory and make it available to kids around the world.
Lamm’s team shared the prototype wheelchair toy with students at Ayita Dance Studio in Texas, which offers dance lessons to children in wheelchairs.
“The kids responded really positively to the chair. They got really excited and definitely loved it a lot!” Lamm said.
“When I saw them playing with the chair, I experienced one of those wonderfully gratifying moments that remind me of why I started Lammily in the first place,” he added.
Lamm told HuffPost he hopes kids eventually see the wheelchair the same way they see any other doll accessory like a purse or car.
“I’ve learned that most people with disabilities simply want to be treated like everyone else,” he explained. “I think some people may assume that a wheelchair accessory already exists in the fashion doll market, when they actually were discontinued.”
He added, “Needless to say, I’m really excited to make it a reality.”
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