Donegal toy creators Arklu have created another empowering doll that challenges the industry to be more inclusive for children of different abilities.
Meet Mia, the outdoor-loving wildlife photographer. Mia wears a cochlear implant, which is part of her story rather than a focal point.
A keen photographer, the Mia character also has a mission to encourage children to take an interest in nature and wildlife. Mia’s message has already appealed to budding wildlife photographers around the world. Her doll box contains a mini-newspaper was comprised of nature photos submitted by children as part of an international photography competition.
Mia the Wildlife Photographer was created by Donegal-based brand Lottie following consultation with ‘Toy Like Me‘, a UK non-profit who campaign for diversity in the toy-box.
ToyLikeMe was set up in 2015 by former BBC journalist and children’s writer, Rebecca Atkinson, who wears hearing aids herself.
Rebecca’s Toy Like Me campaign better representation of disabilities so that differently-abled children can see themselves reflected in the toys they play with.
“When I was growing up in the 80s,” says Rebecca, “I never saw any deaf characters in toys, books or on TV. When I became a mum myself, I decided it was time things changed. I wanted the global toy industry to act, to better represent the 150 million children worldwide with disability and difference.”
Mia is a Lottie Doll of Arklu, the ground-breaking Donegal-based toy company founded by Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett. The brand’s message is that childhood should be an inclusive place, where every child belongs regardless of gender, ethnicity or ability.
The dolls are designed with real children’s’ proportions and do not wear makeup, adult clothing or heels as we often see in the toy industry.
Mia the Wildlife Photographer has been acknowledged in the International Design Awards, receiving both an Honourable Mention and a Silver. She empowers children to become inspired by wildlife through her packaging elements, her appropriate clothing and her STEAM focused accessories.
Psychologist Dr Sian Jones from Goldsmiths, University of London has studied the effects of playing with toys with disability and difference on the attitudes of children without disability and difference.
Interviewing hundreds of children, Dr Jones found that after playing with toys like the Mia doll, children were more open to forming friendships with peers with disability and difference.
Lottie Dolls celebrated their 5th anniversary this year by announcing that, going forward, kids will be contributing to the design of every doll via a monthly design competition. For more information visit www.lottie.com
Mia retails at €24.95 – you can buy the doll online at ie.lottie.com…