LEGO breaks down small barriers for large representation with the reveal of a figure in a wheelchair.
The well-known toy manufacturer recently revealed a new toy figure, but the big difference came from the wheelchair that the toy was featured in. Finally showing a disabled character, LEGO provides children with physical disabilities a toy to relate to. The company got the idea from Rebecca Atkinson, an advocate for representation for disabled children. She had launched the “ToyLikeMe” campaign garnering lots of support until LEGO heard her plea for more diversity in their toys.
Atkinson is partially deaf, and partially sighted which led her to create her movement for all toy companies to represent the 150 million disabled children. She has reached out to other companies like, Playmobil, Orchard Toys, and Lottie dolls. The movement is attempting to crowdfund in order to continue their work and plan to create an online hub that connects customers to toys. This started four days ago and has already reached 20% of its goal. Atkinson hopes to get more funding so that there are more toys to bring to disabled children. Her reaction to LEGO was one of victory and excitement stating that this was getting the world closing to ending “cultural marginalization” and will affect more than just disabled children.
The toy, which is a figure of a young boy, is the first disabled figure in the company’s set. The set also features an aid dog next to the boy; the toys were featured at the Nuremberg and London toy fairs. Reactions have been positive, especially considering the company’s first response to Atkinson’s questioning was that the basis of LEGO was for children to use their imagination. However having a wheelchair there to build on top of is a lot more appreciative than building one from provided parts.
With this new figure more children will be able to relate to their toys, which will help boost self-esteem, however this is only one small step. A member from a disability charity Scope, Pasca Lane, states, “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”. The set will be coming out in the summer and already has many people singing praises, but hopefully others will follow suit. Like Lane states not only would the inclusion be powerful in representation but a smart economic decision by toy companies.