1082. Rebecca Atkinson
Rebecca Atkinson, from Norwich, launched the #ToyLikeMe campaign in April 2015, to encourage the global toy industry to positively represent disabled children in their products.
Drawing on her experience as a journalist and creative consultant in children’s TV, as well as her background as a partially sighted and partially deaf person, Rebecca began by making over toys to give them disabilities and sharing photographs of the models online. After the results went viral, Rebecca launched a petition calling on company ‘Playmobil’ to produce the figures they had created, which gained over 50,000 signatures in a week. Following this, in January 2016 ‘Lego’ unveiled their first ever wheelchair-using mini-figure, and in September 2017, after collaborating with Rebecca’s campaign, ‘Lottie Dolls’ launched the world’s first doll with a cochlear implant by a mainstream doll brand. Rebecca has now developed a ‘ToyLikeMe’ website to help people find products online that represent children with disabilities and difference, and is currently working to develop 3D printed toy wheelchairs, hearing aids and a white cane available for purchase in 2019.
In a personal letter to Rebecca, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The success of your ‘ToyLikeMe’ campaign is testament to your remarkable vision to represent disabilities and difference in toys. At a special time like Christmas, you should feel very proud that the toys your campaign has inspired will be received by children up and down the country, promoting a positive image of difference to all who receive them.”
“We are delighted to have been awarded the Points of Light award on Christmas Day! What an amazing festive gift for us and the 150 million disabled children worldwide with disabilities who need positive toy box representation. We hope that the award continues to increase awareness among the mainstream toy industry about the need for cultural inclusion for these children. Positive disability representation in toys and play can both boost self esteem and grow open minds. Win, win! Happy Christmas and thank you, from Team ToyLikeMe.”
Pictured below: Some of the ToyLikeMe designs (photo credit Beth Moseley)