Charity Wants Toy Manufacturers To Follow LEGO's Lead In Producing Disabled Characters

A charity is urging for more major toy manufacturers to make products featuring characters with disabilities after LEGO included a mini-figure of a man using a wheelchair in its new range.

LEGO made the new mini-figure in response to #ToyLikeMe, a campaign launched last year calling for companies such as LEGO to better represent children with disabilities.

Now, disability charity Scope wants other toy manufacturers to follow suit.

Pasca Lane, head of PR at Scope told PA: "Too many toy manufacturers are still missing a trick by not making toys with impairments widely available. After all, the spending power of disabled consumers is worth over £200 billion."

Lane said LEGO's introduction of the latest mini figure was a great move.

"One in 14 children in the UK are disabled, yet they rarely see their lives reflected in toys, and characters in books and films," she said.

"Many parents tell us it is important for their children to have toys they can identify with because it builds their confidence, self-esteem and the feeling of being included in society.

"It is great that LEGO has responded to this demand and will go on sale in June.

"We hope this move will help build a better future and improve attitudes towards disabled children and their families."

Mum-of-two Rebecca Atkinson kickstarted the global #ToyLikeMe campaign when she posted pictures of toys she had adapted with different disabilities on the internet.

It quickly gained thousands of supporters on social media and resulted in Atkinson, who is herself partially deaf and partially sighted, working as a creative disability consultant with Playmobil to add diverse characters to its range.

"We are beyond happy right now," she said after hearing the news of LEGO's latest character.

"LEGO have just rocked our brick-built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs and hamsters very, very happy.

"We're all conga-ing up and down the street chucking coloured bricks like confetti.

"But on a serious note, this move by Lego is massive in terms of ending cultural marginalisation, it will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over."

Back in May 2015, toy manufacturer Makies was the first to respond to the campaign, launching a range including dolls with walking sticks, hearing impairments, birthmarks and scars.

The company used 3D printing to create the new toys for children.

They wrote on their website: "Notable as the world’s first 3D printed toy at retail, create-your-own Makies are expanding their accessory range to include hearing aids, walking aids and bespoke facial characteristics."

Campaigners backing #ToyLikeMe were very happy at the news.


Posted by Toy Like Me on Wednesday, 13 May 2015

They also said: "Come on LEGO, Playmobil, Mattell Barbie 770,000 UK children with disabilities (and millions more beyond) need positive toy box representation now!"

Atkinson is now seeking investment via a crowdfunding website to grow the organisation and create an online hub to help parents find products which represent disability, and has raised £3,838 of a £16,000 target within just three days.

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