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Posts Tagged ‘dolls’

2020-07-24-disability-doll

Photo: Sam Butler
“Two-year-old Lula-Belle Butler-Wenlock-Simpson, who was born with heart problems and underwent open-heart surgery, poses with a Special Friends doll whose scar mirrors her own,” explains PRI.

At Public Radio International (PRI), a distributor of some of my favorite shows, I recently learned about personalized dolls for children with disabilities and other big challenges. Bianca Hillier reported the story at PRI’s “The World.”

“Dolls have come a long way since the 1950s. One of the first TV commercials for Mattel Inc.’s Barbie doll sang: ‘Barbie’s small and so petite. Her clothes and figure look so neat.’

“While modern-day dolls aren’t confined to quite as rigid looks, the industry still has room to expand its inclusivity — especially for children with disabilities.

“That’s the challenge Victoria Band faced when her son was growing up. He is deaf in both ears and uses hearing aids. When he was younger, she wanted to give him a doll that also used hearing aids to show that he was not alone.

“ ‘When he went to his [medical appointments], he’d say, “Mommy, it’s a scary place at first. You don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know what [the hearing aids] are going to look like,” ‘ Band said. ‘So if [only] there was a doll there and they could say, “Oh, look, this is what you’re going to have in your ears. Look at all the different colors you could have.” ‘ …

“Band, who has always been crafty, started making her own dolls last year. She called the business ‘Special Friends.’

Working from her home in Dewsbury, England, she now makes dolls who have scars, cleft lips, hearing aids, oxygen tanks, or anything else that matches a child’s special needs. Many of the dolls are custom-made. …

“Band’s handmade dolls have since helped hundreds of kids, including a little girl named Lula-Belle who was born with heart problems and had open heart surgery at 14 weeks old. Lula-Belle is 2 years old now and has a scar down the middle of her chest. Her mom, Sam Butler, found out about ‘Special Friends’ on Facebook. …

“ ‘When she got her first doll, she was like, “Mommy, scar! Scar! Scar! Me scar, me scar!” ‘ Butler recalled. ‘And she pulled up her top. And she was matching scars with her baby.’ …

“Special Friends has been up and running for less than a year, but Band has already sent dolls beyond the United Kingdom to Germany, the US, and Australia. She says seeing the reactions come in from around the world is priceless.

“ ‘You can’t ask for much more than seeing a child really happy,’ Band said. ‘That’s worth more than anything.’

“Band added that the dolls can also be used as an educational tool to teach kids about medical equipment, surgeries, and conditions they may not know about. People need to be ‘more aware,’ she said, so that other children aren’t made to feel different in the first place.”

More at PRI, here.

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012518-dolls-from-my-childhood

Dolls that used to attend my “school.” I’m sorry to say that the book We Grow Up was pilfered from my second grade classroom.

On the third floor landing in the house where I spent most of my childhood, there was an alcove with a window and a couch. On nice days, the sun streamed in and revealed the perfect spot to set up a space of my own. I called it “The Little House” and hung signs around to indicate it was off-limits to everyone else.

In my space, which eventually evolved into “The Little School,” I set out all the toys related to keeping house or teaching school. The two pupils above I had received earlier. Susie, on the right, is still my favorite. She came into my life when I was 5. The cape is the original, but I don’t know what happened to the blue- and white-striped dress Susie arrived with, or her black shoes and white knee socks.

On the left is Toni, who when I was 7 brought along her hair curlers and styling lotion, courtesy of the Toni hair-perm company. I was an easy grader as a teacher but firm about hard work.

I suppose that whatever children most like to play with reflects their interests and is a way of practicing something grown-ups do that looks like it might be fun. I myself moved on from teaching dolls to using teaching as a camp counselor, a parent, an editor — and an actual teacher.

Nowadays, girls don’t seem to spend as much time with dolls, but nurturing remains a life skill worthy of being practiced by any child. When today’s small daughters enter the workforce (let’s say daughters for the sake of argument), will those engineering and truck driving jobs be the ones that are available? Young adults will probably invent new kinds of jobs, and who knows? Maybe nurturing will be useful in those fields, too. Certainly, there will always be a need for nurturing parents, caregivers, and teachers.

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I moved from Rochester, New York, more than 30 years ago, so it was only when I went back for a visit that I got to see the storied collections of Margaret Woodbury Strong in a museum built to house them.

When one recovers from the enormity of her obsession, one feels deeply grateful for all the toys and dolls of one’s childhood so beautifully preserved.

The offerings and outreach of the museum have grown like topsy in 30 years. And today another new partnership was announced.

“The great minds of the toy industry will be honored alongside their famous creations when the Toy Industry Hall of Fame combines with the National Toy Hall of Fame under a partnership announced Tuesday.

“The 5,000-square-foot National Toy Hall of Fame gallery at the Strong museum in Rochester will undergo $4 million in renovations, with the goal of opening the combined hall in the fall of 2015.

“The Toy Industry Hall of Fame, whose inductees have included Milton Bradley, Frederick August Otto Schwarz, Walt Disney and George Lucas, has been without a physical presence for about eight years following the closure of the International Toy Center in New York City.

“Leaders of both halls have been talking for some time about combining the two as a way to raise their visibility and exposure and to promote their educational missions. …

” ‘The Strong is an ideal home for this homage to both the toys that have influenced generations of children and the innovative minds that brought them to life,’ Carter Keithley, president of the Toy Industry Association, said at a news conference at the Strong museum, where items like alphabet blocks, roller skates, the Frisbee, Lincoln Logs and the stick occupy places of honor.”

Read more at Yahoo, here. Click “like” if you believe in toys.

Photo: The Strong Museum
“The Strong’s founder, Margaret Woodbury Strong, had a particular interest in dolls and amassed one of the largest collections in the world. The National Museum of Play® at The Strong continues to refine and develop her collection, making it increasingly comprehensive and inclusive. It now includes more than 12,000 dolls and 2,800 paper dolls.”

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